The tendency for potential risk to vary directly with potential return, so that the more risk involved, the greater the potential return, and vice versa.
Copyright © 2012, Campbell R. Harvey. All Rights Reserved.
The concept that every rational investor, at a given level of risk, will accept only the largest expected return. That is, given two investments at the exact same level of risk, all other things being equal, every rational investor will invest in the one that offers the higher return. The risk-return tradeoff is pervasive throughout economics and finance. It is the reason that riskier bonds pay higher coupons than other bonds. It is also the reason that bonds pay lower returns than most stocks because they are a less risky investment. The Markowitz Portfolio Theory attempts to mathematically identify the portfolio with the highest return at each level of risk. See also: Markowitz Efficient Portfolio.
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