Supplementary resources by topic. Risk and Return is one of 51 key economics concepts identified by the Council for Economic Education (CEE) for high school classes.

Risk and Return

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Definitions and Basics
In the News and Examples
A Little History: Primary Sources and References
Advanced Resources
Related Topics

Definitions and Basics

Risk-Return Tradeoff, from Investopedia.com

The principle that potential return rises with an increase in risk. Low levels of uncertainty (low risk) are associated with low potential returns, whereas high levels of uncertainty (high risk) are associated with high potential returns. In other words, the risk-return tradeoff says that invested money can render higher profits only if it is subject to the possibility of being lost….

In the News and Examples

A Little History: Primary Sources and References

Harry Markowitz, biography from the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics

In 1990, U.S. economists Harry Markowitz, William F. Sharpe, and Merton H. Miller shared the Nobel Prize for their contributions to financial economics. Their contributions, in fact, were what started financial economics as a separate field of study. In the early fifties Markowitz developed portfolio theory, which looks at how investment returns can be optimized. Economists had long understood the common sense of diversifying a portfolio; the expression “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” has been around for a long time. But Markowitz showed how to measure the risk of various securities and how to combine them in a portfolio to get the maximum return for a given risk….

William Sharpe, biography from the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics

In the sixties Sharpe, taking off from Markowitz’s portfolio theory, developed the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM). One implication of this model was that a single mix of risky assets fits in every investor’s portfolio. Those who want a high return hold a portfolio heavily weighted with the risky asset; those who want a low return hold a portfolio heavily weighted with a riskless asset, such as an insured bank deposit….

Advanced Resources

Risk, Uncertainty, and Profit, by Frank Knight on Econlib

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Budget Deficits and Public Debt

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