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Stock Volatility during the Recent Financial Crisis

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  • G. William Schwert

Abstract

This paper uses monthly returns from 1802 to 2010, daily returns from 1885 to 2010, and intraday returns from 1982 to 2010 in the USA to show how stock volatility has changed over time. It also uses various measures of volatility implied by option prices to infer what the market was expecting to happen in the months following the financial crisis in late 2008. This episode was associated with historically high levels of stock market volatility, particularly among financial sector stocks, but the market did not expect volatility to remain high for long and it did not. This is in sharp contrast to the prolonged periods of high volatility during the Great Depression. Similar analysis of stock volatility in the United Kingdom and Japan reinforces the notion that the volatility seen in the 2008 crisis was relatively short†lived. While there is a link between stock volatility and real economic activity, such as unemployment rates, it can be misleading.

Suggested Citation

  • G. William Schwert, 2011. "Stock Volatility during the Recent Financial Crisis," European Financial Management, European Financial Management Association, vol. 17(5), pages 789-805, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:eufman:v:17:y:2011:i:5:p:789-805
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    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-036X.2011.00620.x
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Schwert, G William, 1990. "Indexes of U.S. Stock Prices from 1802 to 1987," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63(3), pages 399-426, July.
    2. William Schwert, G., 2002. "Stock volatility in the new millennium: how wacky is Nasdaq?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 3-26, January.
    3. Day, Theodore E. & Lewis, Craig M., 1988. "The behavior of the volatility implicit in the prices of stock index options," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 103-122, October.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates

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