Asset Pricing

ECO421 Asset Pricing

Autumn 2018

Spring 2019
  • Topics

    The course introduces students to the economic principles behind models of rational valuation and investment choice. To keep the mathematics at a minimal level, results are generally formulated in a discrete-time setting, with an emphasis on the one-period setting. The course sets out by clarifying the foundation of financial economics; the relationship between equilibrium or the absence of arbitrage opportunities and the existence of a system of state prices. Assets (e.g. stocks, bonds, derivatives) are then priced as portfolios of simple state claims. The course also demonstrates that classic models like the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) and the Black- Scholes-Merton option pricing formula are special instances of the same basic economic framework. Topics include, but are not limited to


    1. Introduction             [Readings: CWS 3 (HL 1, 2)]

    - Asset Pricing: Equilibrium vs Arbitrage

    - Risk Aversion, Fair Gambles

    - Investor Preferences and Risky Investments

    - Absolute and Relative Risk Aversion



    2. Investment Decisions in a State Contingent Claim Framework       [Readings: CWS 4 (HL 5)]

    - The Framework

    - Optimal Investment Decisions

    - Elementary Linear Algebra

    - Spanning: Complete versus Incomplete Markets

    - Pricing of Securities and No-Arbitrage Conditions



    3. Investment Decisions Based on Arbitrage/Replication Arguments      [Readings: CWS 7 (HL 8)]

    - The Binomial Option Pricing Framework

    - American Options, Path Dependence, Exotic Options



    4. The Term Structure of Interest Rates            [Readings: CWS 8]

    - Spanning & pricing using treasuries

    - Discount factors, spot rates, and forward rates

    - Term Structure Theories



    5. Portfolio choice, the CAPM, and APT

    - Markowitz' portfolio choice model

    - The CAPM with homogeneous beliefs

         - with riskless asset

         - without riskless asset

    - Markowitz with heterogeneous beliefs¿the Black-Litterman model

    - Ross' multi-factor asset pricing model (the APT)


    6. Additional topics

    - Stochastic Discount Factors & Asset Pricing

    - The Equity Premium Puzzle; multi-period consumption-based asset pricing models

    - Current topics in the academic asset pricing literature, e.g. recent empirical findings


    This syllabus is tentative. Changes in this document and to the plans for this course are likely (for instance to accommodate student interests, new developments, or current events).

  • Learning outcome

    After completing the course, the students will:

    • know the fundamental theory of financial economics
    • understand the economic reasoning underlying financial economics
    • be able to discern the important assumptions, features and empirical predictions of theoretical models in financial economics
    • know the origin of finance models and understand the relationship between these models
    • be able to formulate and conduct quantitative analyses
    • understand the distinction between equilibrium and arbitrage asset pricing, the key elements of each approach, and their relative strengths and weaknesses
    • understand the relationship between spanning and pricing in arbitrage models
    • understand the relationship between portfolio choice, partial/general equilibrium, and asset prices in equilibrium models
    • be able to use the tools from asset pricing to related tasks such as hedging, return & risk modeling
    • be able to discuss recent empirical research and current events in financial markets from an asset pricing standpoint.

  • Teaching

    Regular lectures

  • Required prerequisites

    From Fall 2015 the following prerequisites will apply:

    To take this course you should already have skills in

    • decisions under uncertainty similar to those obtained in ECO400,
    • optimizations similar to those obtained in ECO401,
    • and skills in basic asset pricing similar to those obtained in FIE400.

  • Requirements for course approval

    To complete this course, the student must obtain course approval (kursgodkjenning), based on homework and other assigned course activities, and pass a 4-hour final exam. Students who have not obtained course approval prior to the final exam will not be allowed to take the exam. To obtain course approval, the student must complete all course assignments, hand them in, and receive a passing average grade. The average grade to pass will vary as the assignments and their difficulty may vary from semester to semester. All coursework, including all exams and assignments, must be completed in English.

  • Assessment

    Four hour written school exam.

    The exam will be given in English and has to be answered in English.

  • Grading Scale

    Grading scale A-F

  • Computer tools

    Spreadsheet (Excel)

  • Literature

    Primary Textbook: Copeland, T. S., Weston, F., & Shastri, K. (2005) (CWS), "Financial Theory and Corporate Policy," Fourth Edition, Addison Wesley, ISBN 0-321-22353-5.




    Advanced texts (PhD level):

    Huang, Chi-fu & Litzenberger, Robert H., (1988) (HL), "Foundations for Financial Economics", North-Holland.

    Dothan, D. (1990), "Prices in Financial Markets" Cochrane, J. H. (2005), "Asset Pricing," Revised Edition



    Additional Readings may be assigned.


ECTS Credits
Teaching language
English: the final exam, any other examinations or presentations, all assignments, class participation, etc., must be completed in English.


Course responsible

Jørgen Haug and Tommy Stamland, Department of Finance. Offices: 4th floor in the main building. E-mail:,