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Political Cycles and Stock Returns

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  • Ľuboš Pástor
  • Pietro Veronesi

Abstract

We develop a model of political cycles driven by time-varying risk aversion. Agents choose to work in the public or private sector and to vote Democratic or Republican. In equilibrium, when risk aversion is high, agents elect Democrats—the party promising more redistribution. The model predicts higher average stock market returns under Democratic presidencies, explaining the well-known “presidential puzzle.” The model can also explain why economic growth has been faster under Democratic presidencies. In the data, Democratic voters are more risk averse, and risk aversion declines during Democratic presidencies. Public workers vote Democratic, while entrepreneurs vote Republican, as the model predicts.

Suggested Citation

  • Ľuboš Pástor & Pietro Veronesi, 2020. "Political Cycles and Stock Returns," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 128(11), pages 4011-4045.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:doi:10.1086/710532
    DOI: 10.1086/710532
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G18 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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