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Predictability in international asset returns: a reexamination

  • Christopher Neely
  • Paul Weller

This paper argues that inferring long-horizon asset-return predictability from the properties of vector autoregressive (VAR) models on relatively short spans of data is potentially unreliable. We illustrate the problems that can arise by re-examining the findings of Bekaert and Hodrick (1992), who detected evidence of in-sample predictability in international equity and foreign exchange markets using VAR methodology for a variety of countries over the period 1981-1989. The VAR predictions are significantly biased in most out-of-sample forecasts and are conclusively outperformed by a simple benchmark model at horizons of up to six months. This remains true even after corrections for small sample bias and the introduction of Bayesian parameter restrictions. A Monte Carlo analysis indicates that the data are unlikely to have been generated by a stable VAR. This conclusion is supported by an examination of structural break statistics. Implied long-horizon statistics calculated from the VAR parameter estimates are shown to be very unreliable.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 1997-010.

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Date of creation: 1999
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Publication status: Published in Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, December 2000, 35-(4), pp. 601-20
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:1997-010
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  1. Bekaert, Geert & Hodrick, Robert J, 1992. " Characterizing Predictable Components in Excess Returns on Equity and Foreign Exchange Markets," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(2), pages 467-509, June.
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  3. 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.
  4. Fama, Eugene F & French, Kenneth R, 1988. "Permanent and Temporary Components of Stock Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 246-73, April.
  5. Eric Ghysels, 1998. "On Stable Factor Structures in the Pricing of Risk: Do Time-Varying Betas Help or Hurt?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(2), pages 549-573, 04.
  6. Summers, Lawrence H, 1986. " Does the Stock Market Rationally Reflect Fundamental Values?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 41(3), pages 591-601, July.
  7. Owen Lamont, . "Earnings and Expected Returns," CRSP working papers 345, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  8. Bekaert, Geert & Hodrick, Robert J. & Marshall, David A., 1997. "On biases in tests of the expectations hypothesis of the term structure of interest rates," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 309-348, June.
  9. Engle, Robert F, 1983. "Estimates of the Variance of U.S. Inflation Based upon the ARCH Model," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 15(3), pages 286-301, August.
  10. James M. Poterba & Lawrence H. Summers, 1987. "Mean Reversion in Stock Prices: Evidence and Implications," NBER Working Papers 2343, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Ghysels, E. & Guay, A. & Hall, A., 1995. "Predictive Tests for Structural Change with Unknown Breakpoint," Cahiers de recherche 9524, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  12. Hansen, Bruce E, 1992. "Tests for Parameter Instability in Regressions with I(1) Processes," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 10(3), pages 321-35, July.
  13. Donald W.K. Andrews, 1990. "Tests for Parameter Instability and Structural Change with Unknown Change Point," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 943, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  14. Perron, Pierre, 1990. "Testing for a Unit Root in a Time Series with a Changing Mean," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 8(2), pages 153-62, April.
  15. Andrew W. Lo, A. Craig MacKinlay, 1988. "Stock Market Prices do not Follow Random Walks: Evidence from a Simple Specification Test," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 1(1), pages 41-66.
  16. Geert Bekaert & Campbell R. Harvey, 1995. "Emerging Equity Market Volatility," NBER Working Papers 5307, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Campbell, John Y., 1987. "Stock returns and the term structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 373-399, June.
  18. N. Gregory Mankiw & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1985. "Do We Reject Too Often? Small Sample Properties of Tests of Rational Expectations Models," NBER Technical Working Papers 0051, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Newey, Whitney K & West, Kenneth D, 1994. "Automatic Lag Selection in Covariance Matrix Estimation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(4), pages 631-53, October.
  20. Robert B. Litterman, 1985. "Forecasting with Bayesian vector autoregressions five years of experience," Working Papers 274, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  21. 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.
  22. Mark, Nelson C, 1995. "Exchange Rates and Fundamentals: Evidence on Long-Horizon Predictability," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 201-18, March.
  23. Richardson, Matthew, 1993. "Temporary Components of Stock Prices: A Skeptic's View," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 11(2), pages 199-207, April.
  24. Nelson, Charles R & Kim, Myung J, 1993. " Predictable Stock Returns: The Role of Small Sample Bias," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 48(2), pages 641-61, June.
  25. Fama, Eugene F, 1970. "Efficient Capital Markets: A Review of Theory and Empirical Work," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 25(2), pages 383-417, May.
  26. Meese, Richard A. & Rogoff, Kenneth, 1983. "Empirical exchange rate models of the seventies : Do they fit out of sample?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1-2), pages 3-24, February.
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