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Stock Returns and the Term Structure

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  • John Y. Campbell

Abstract

It is well known that in the postwar period stockreturns have tended to be low when the short term nominal interest rate is high. In this paper I show that more generally the state of the term structure of interest rates predicts stock returns. Risk premia on stocks appear to move closely together with those on 20-year Treasury bonds, while risk premia on Treasury bills move somewhat independently. Average returns on 20-year bonds have been very low relative to average returns on stocks. I use these observations to test some simple asset pricing models. First I consider latent variable models in which betas are constant and risk premia vary with expected returns on a small number of unobservable hedge portfolios. The data strongly reject a single-latent-variable model.The last part of the paper examines the relationship between conditional means and variances of returns on bills, bonds and stocks. Bill returns tend to be high when their conditional variance is high, but there is a perverse negative relationship between stock returns and their conditional variance. A model is estimated which assumes that asset returns are determined by their time-varying betas with a fixed-weight "benchmark" portfolio of bills, bonds and stocks, whose return is proportional to its conditional variance. This portfolio is estimated to place almost all its weight on bills, indicating that uncertainty about nominal interest rates is important in pricing both short- and long-term assets.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 1626.

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Date of creation: Jun 1985
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Publication status: published as Campbell, John. "Stock Returns and the Term Structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Vol. 18, No. 2, June 1987, pp. 373-399.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1626

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  1. Merton, Robert C, 1973. "An Intertemporal Capital Asset Pricing Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 41(5), pages 867-87, September.
  2. Richard Startz, . "Do Forecast Errors or Term Premia Really Make the Difference Between Long and Short Rates?," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 08-81, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  3. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-38, May.
  4. Schwert, G William, 1981. "The Adjustment of Stock Prices to Information about Inflation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 36(1), pages 15-29, March.
  5. N. Gregory Mankiw & Lawrence H. Summers, 1984. "Do Long-Term Interest Rates Overreact to Short-Term Interest Rates?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 15(1), pages 223-248.
  6. Robert S. Pindyck, 1983. "Risk, Inflation, and the Stock Market," NBER Working Papers 1186, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. LeRoy, Stephen F, 1982. " Expectations Models of Asset Prices: A Survey of Theory," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 37(1), pages 185-217, March.
  8. Hansen, Lars Peter & Singleton, Kenneth J, 1982. "Generalized Instrumental Variables Estimation of Nonlinear Rational Expectations Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1269-86, September.
  9. Robert J. Shiller & John Y. Campbell & Kermit L. Schoenholtz, 1983. "Forward Rates and Future Policy: Interpreting the Term Structure of Interest Rates," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 14(1), pages 173-224.
  10. LeRoy, Stephen F., 1982. "Risk-aversion and the term structure of real interest rates," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 10(3-4), pages 355-361.
  11. Fama, Eugene F., 1984. "Term premiums in bond returns," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 529-546, December.
  12. Fama, Eugene F., 1984. "The information in the term structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 509-528, December.
  13. Fama, Eugene F, 1976. "Inflation Uncertainty and Expected Returns on Treasury Bills," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(3), pages 427-48, June.
  14. Hansen, Lars Peter, 1982. "Large Sample Properties of Generalized Method of Moments Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1029-54, July.
  15. Constantinides, George M., 1980. "Admissible uncertainty in the intertemporal asset pricing model," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 71-86, March.
  16. Breeden, Douglas T., 1979. "An intertemporal asset pricing model with stochastic consumption and investment opportunities," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 265-296, September.
  17. Fama, Eugene F, 1981. "Stock Returns, Real Activity, Inflation, and Money," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 545-65, September.
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