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What explains the stock market's reaction to Federal Reserve policy?

  • Ben S. Bernanke
  • Kenneth N. Kuttner

This paper analyzes the impact of unanticipated changes in the federal funds rate target on equity prices, with the aim of both estimating the size of the typical reaction and understanding the reasons for the market's response. We find that over the June 1989-December 2002 sample period, a typical unanticipated rate cut of 25 basis points is associated with an increase of roughly 1 percent in the level of stock prices, as measured by the CRSP value-weighted index. There is some evidence of a stronger stock price response to changes in rates that are expected to be more permanent or that represent a reversal in the direction of rate changes. The estimated response of stock prices to fund rate surprises varies widely across industries, but in a manner consistent with the predictions of the standard capital asset pricing model. Applying the methods of Campbell (1991) and Campbell and Ammer (1993), we find that most of the effect of monetary policy on stock prices can be traced to its implications for forecasted equity risk premiums. Some effect can be traced to the implications of monetary policy surprises for forecasted dividends, but very little stems from the impact of policy on expectations of the real rate of interest.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Staff Reports with number 174.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:174
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  1. Faust, Jon & Swanson, Eric T. & Wright, Jonathan H., 2004. "Identifying VARS based on high frequency futures data," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(6), pages 1107-1131, September.
  2. Jeff Fuhrer & Geoff Tootell, 2004. "Eyes on the prize: how did the Fed respond to the stock market?," Public Policy Discussion Paper 04-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  3. Faust Jon & Swanson Eric T & Wright Jonathan H, 2004. "Do Federal Reserve Policy Surprises Reveal Superior Information about the Economy?," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 1-31, October.
  4. d'Amico, Stefania & Mira Farka, 2003. "The Fed and Stock Market: A Proxy and Instrumental Variable Identification," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2003 52, Royal Economic Society.
  5. John Y. Campbell & Tuomo Vuolteenaho, 2003. "Bad Beta, Good Beta," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2016, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  6. Ammer, John & Campbell, John, 1993. "What Moves the Stock and Bond Markets? A Variance Decomposition for Long-Term Asset Returns," Scholarly Articles 3382857, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  7. Willem Thorbecke, 1995. "On Stock Market Returns and Monetary Policy," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_139, Levy Economics Institute.
  8. Roberto Rigobon & Brian Sack, 2001. "Measuring the reaction of monetary policy to the stock market," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2001-14, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. Glenn D. Rudebusch, 1995. "Federal Reserve interest rate targeting, rational expectations, and the term structure," Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory 95-02, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  10. Gurkaynak, Refet S. & Sack, Brian T. & Swanson, Eric P., 2007. "Market-Based Measures of Monetary Policy Expectations," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 25, pages 201-212, April.
  11. Ray Fair, 2003. "Events that Shook the Market," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm307, Yale School of Management.
  12. Campbell, John, 1991. "A Variance Decomposition for Stock Returns," Scholarly Articles 3207695, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  13. Goto, Shingo, 2000. "The Fed's Effect on Excess Returns and Inflation is Much Bigger Than You Think," University of California at Los Angeles, Anderson Graduate School of Management qt04f1z5hb, Anderson Graduate School of Management, UCLA.
  14. Brandt, Michael W. & Wang, Kevin Q., 2003. "Time-varying risk aversion and unexpected inflation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(7), pages 1457-1498, October.
  15. 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.
  16. Joel T. Krueger & Kenneth N. Kuttner, 1995. "The Fed funds futures rate as a predictor of Federal Reserve policy," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 95-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  17. John H. Cochrane & Monika Piazzesi, 2002. "The Fed and Interest Rates: A High-Frequency Identification," NBER Working Papers 8839, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Ben Bernanke & Mark Gertler, 1999. "Monetary policy and asset price volatility," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q IV, pages 17-51.
  19. Roberto Rigobon & Brian Sack, 2002. "The impact of monetary policy on asset prices," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2002-4, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  20. Charles Evans & Kenneth Kuttner, 1998. "Can VARs describe monetary policy?," Research Paper 9812, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  21. John H. Boyd & Ravi Jagannathan & Jian Hu, 2001. "The Stock Market's Reaction to Unemployment News: Why Bad News is Usually Good for Stocks," NBER Working Papers 8092, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Kenneth N. Kuttner, 2000. "Monetary policy surprises and interest rates: evidence from the Fed funds futures markets," Staff Reports 99, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  23. Ehrmann, Michael & Fratzscher, Marcel, 2004. "Taking stock: monetary policy transmission to equity markets," Working Paper Series 0354, European Central Bank.
  24. Demiralp, Selva & Jorda, Oscar, 2004. "The Response of Term Rates to Fed Announcements," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 36(3), pages 387-405, June.
  25. Joel T. Krueger & Kenneth N. Kuttner, 1996. "The Fed funds futures rate as a predictor of federal reserve policy," Journal of Futures Markets, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(8), pages 865-879, December.
  26. William Poole & Robert H & Rasche & Daniel L. Thornton, 2002. "Market anticipations of monetary policy actions," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 65-94.
  27. David H. Romer & Christina D. Romer, 2000. "Federal Reserve Information and the Behavior of Interest Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 429-457, June.
  28. 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.
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