IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Consumption, Aggregate Wealth, and Expected Stock Returns

  • Martin Lettau

This paper studies the role of fluctuations in the aggregate consumption-wealth ratio for predicting stock returns. Using U.S. quarterly stock market data, we find that these fluctuations in the consumption-wealth ratio are strong predictors of both real stock returns and excess returns over a Treasury bill rate. We also find that this variable is a better forecaster of future returns at short and intermediate horizons than is the dividend yield, the dividend payout ratio, and several other popular forecasting variables. Why should the consumption-wealth ratio forecast asset returns? We show that a wide class of optimal models of consumer behavior imply that the log consumption-aggregate wealth (human capital plus asset holdings) ratio summarizes expected returns on aggregate wealth, or the market portfolio. Although this ratio is not observable, we provide assumptions under which its important predictive components for future asset returns may be xpressed in terms of observable variables, namely in terms of consumption, asset holdings and labor income. The framework implies that these variables are cointegrated, and that deviations from this shared trend summarize agents' expectations of future returns on the market portfolio. Copyright The American Finance Association 2001.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
File Function: link to full text
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by American Finance Association in its journal The Journal of Finance.

Volume (Year): 56 (2001)
Issue (Month): 3 (06)
Pages: 815-849

in new window

Handle: RePEc:bla:jfinan:v:56:y:2001:i:3:p:815-849
Contact details of provider: Web page:

More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Web:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Robert E. Hall, 1981. "Intertemporal Substitution in Consumption," NBER Working Papers 0720, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Owen Lamont, 1996. "Earnings and Expected Returns," NBER Working Papers 5671, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Campbell, J.Y. & Perron, P., 1991. "Pitfalls and Opportunities: What Macroeconomics should know about unit roots," Papers 360, Princeton, Department of Economics - Econometric Research Program.
  4. John Y. Campbell & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1989. "Consumption, Income, and Interest Rates: Reinterpreting the Time Series Evidence," NBER Working Papers 2924, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Shmuel Kandel & Robert F. Stambaugh, . "Modeling Expected Stock Returns for Long and Short Horizons," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 42-88, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  6. Francis X. Diebold & Robert S. Mariano, 1994. "Comparing Predictive Accuracy," NBER Technical Working Papers 0169, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Campbell, John, 1996. "Understanding Risk and Return," Scholarly Articles 3153293, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Hodrick, Robert J, 1992. "Dividend Yields and Expected Stock Returns: Alternative Procedures for Inference and Measurement," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 5(3), pages 357-86.
  9. Campbell, John, 1991. "A Variance Decomposition for Stock Returns," Scholarly Articles 3207695, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. Campbell, John Y., 1987. "Stock returns and the term structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 373-399, June.
  11. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1991. "A simple estimator of cointegrating vectors in higher order integrated systems," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 91-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  12. Fama, Eugene F. & French, Kenneth R., 1988. "Dividend yields and expected stock returns," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-25, October.
  13. Todd E. Clark & Michael W. McCracken, 1999. "Tests of equal forecast accuracy and encompassing for nested models," Research Working Paper 99-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  14. Fama, Eugene F. & French, Kenneth R., 1989. "Business conditions and expected returns on stocks and bonds," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 23-49, November.
  15. Stock, James H, 1987. "Asymptotic Properties of Least Squares Estimators of Cointegrating Vectors," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(5), pages 1035-56, September.
  16. Harvey, David I & Leybourne, Stephen J & Newbold, Paul, 1998. "Tests for Forecast Encompassing," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 16(2), pages 254-59, April.
  17. Sydney Ludvigson & Charles Steindel, 1998. "How important is the stock market effect on consumption?," Research Paper 9821, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  18. Cochrane, John H, 1992. "Explaining the Variance of Price-Dividend Ratios," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 5(2), pages 243-80.
  19. John Y. Campbell, Robert J. Shiller, 1988. "The Dividend-Price Ratio and Expectations of Future Dividends and Discount Factors," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 1(3), pages 195-228.
  20. Robert Hodrick & David Ng & Paul Sengmueller, 1999. "An International Dynamic Asset Pricing Model," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 6(4), pages 597-620, November.
  21. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:109:y:1994:i:1:p:241-65 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. Todd E. Clark, 1996. "Finite-sample properties of tests for forecast equivalence," Research Working Paper 96-03, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  23. John Y. Campbell, 1986. "Does Saving Anticipate Declining Labor Income? An Alternative Test of the Permanent Income Hypothesis," NBER Working Papers 1805, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. John Y. Campbell & John H. Cochrane, 1994. "By Force of Habit: A Consumption-Based Explanation of Aggregate Stock Market Behavior," CRSP working papers 412, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  25. Johansen, Soren, 1988. "Statistical analysis of cointegration vectors," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 12(2-3), pages 231-254.
  26. Hall, Robert E, 1978. "Stochastic Implications of the Life Cycle-Permanent Income Hypothesis: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(6), pages 971-87, December.
  27. Merton, Robert C, 1973. "An Intertemporal Capital Asset Pricing Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 41(5), pages 867-87, September.
  28. John Y. Campbell, 1992. "Intertemporal Asset Pricing Without Consumption Data," NBER Working Papers 3989, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  29. Phillips, Peter C B & Ouliaris, S, 1990. "Asymptotic Properties of Residual Based Tests for Cointegration," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(1), pages 165-93, January.
  30. McCracken, Michael W., 2007. "Asymptotics for out of sample tests of Granger causality," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 140(2), pages 719-752, October.
  31. Cumby, Robert E. & Modest, David M., 1987. "Testing for market timing ability : A framework for forecast evaluation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 169-189, September.
  32. repec:fth:harver:1435 is not listed on IDEAS
  33. John H. Cochrane, 1991. "Volatility Tests and Efficient Markets: A Review Essay," NBER Working Papers 3591, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  34. Alan S. Blinder & Angus Deaton, 1985. "The Time Series Consumption Function Revisited," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 16(2), pages 465-521.
  35. Johansen, Soren, 1991. "Estimation and Hypothesis Testing of Cointegration Vectors in Gaussian Vector Autoregressive Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(6), pages 1551-80, November.
  36. Flavin, Marjorie A, 1981. "The Adjustment of Consumption to Changing Expectations about Future Income," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 974-1009, October.
  37. Robert J. Shiller, 1984. "Stock Prices and Social Dynamics," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 719R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:jfinan:v:56:y:2001:i:3:p:815-849. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing)

or (Christopher F. Baum)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.