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Government spending, political cycles, and the cross section of stock returns

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  • Belo, Frederico
  • Gala, Vito D.
  • Li, Jun

Abstract

Using a novel measure of industry exposure to government spending, we show predictable variation in cash flows and stock returns over political cycles. During Democratic presidencies, firms with high government exposure experience higher cash flows and stock returns, while the opposite pattern holds true during Republican presidencies. Business cycles, firm characteristics, and standard risk factors do not account for the pattern in returns across presidencies. An investment strategy that exploits the presidential cycle predictability generates abnormal returns as large as 6.9% per annum. Our results suggest market underreaction to predictable variation in the effect of government spending policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Belo, Frederico & Gala, Vito D. & Li, Jun, 2013. "Government spending, political cycles, and the cross section of stock returns," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 305-324.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfinec:v:107:y:2013:i:2:p:305-324
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jfineco.2012.08.016
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Asset pricing; Government spending; Political cycles; Input–output analysis;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D57 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Input-Output Tables and Analysis
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G18 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Government Policy and Regulation

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