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In my opinion, risk free rate is not necessarily positive and not so important to pricing theory. It happened to be positive in most cases, but imagine a planet using Uranium-235 instead of gold as the money and unknowingly suffers from a shrinking population, likely the risk free rate is negative. Below are what I regard as important in pricing theory, ...


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My non-rigorous answer: The future is uncertain. Even if there is no financial risk to investing in the "risk free" asset there is personal risk. For example, I could get hit by a car and die. Even if I survive till the moment that I liquidate my investment I will have less time left in my life to enjoy it. I need to be compensated for giving up this ...


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The technique is sometimes referred to as full information maximum likelihood. It is more general than the technique you describe, but it is similar. Basically you start with the data with the longest horizon and get the covariance matrix, then for the data with the next longest horizon you regress them against the data with the longest horizon, finally you ...



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