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Consumption, aggregate wealth and expected stock returns

Listed author(s):
  • Sydney Ludvigson
  • Martin Lettau

This paper studies the role of detrended wealth in predicting stock returns. We call a transitory movement in wealth one that produces a deviation from its shared trend with consumption and labor income. Using U.S. quarterly stock market data, we find that these trend deviations in wealth 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 earnings yield, the dividend payout ratio and several other popular forecasting variables. ; Why should wealth, detrended in this way, forecast asset returns? We show that a wide class of optimal models of consumer behavior imply that the log consumption-aggregate (human and nonhuman) wealth ratio forecasts the expected return on aggregate wealth, or the market portfolio. Although this ratio is not observable, we demonstrate that its important predictive components may be expressed in terms of observable variables, namely in terms of consumption, nonhuman wealth 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.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Staff Reports with number 77.

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Date of creation: 1999
Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:77
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  1. Campbell, John Y., 1987. "Stock returns and the term structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 373-399, June.
  2. Sydney Ludvigson & Charles Steindel, 1999. "How important is the stock market effect on consumption?," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Jul, pages 29-51.
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  7. Todd E. Clark, 1996. "Finite-sample properties of tests for forecast equivalence," Research Working Paper 96-03, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
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  13. repec:fth:harver:1435 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. John Y. Campbell & John H. Cochrane, 1994. "By force of habit: a consumption-based explanation of aggregate stock market behavior," Working Papers 94-17, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  15. Campbell, John, 1991. "A Variance Decomposition for Stock Returns," Scholarly Articles 3207695, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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  19. John Y. Campbell & Robert J. Shiller, 1986. "The Dividend-Price Ratio and Expectations of Future Dividends and Discount Factors," NBER Working Papers 2100, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Johansen, Soren, 1991. "Estimation and Hypothesis Testing of Cointegration Vectors in Gaussian Vector Autoregressive Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(6), pages 1551-1580, November.
  21. Robert E. Hall, 1981. "Intertemporal Substitution in Consumption," NBER Working Papers 0720, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. 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.
  23. John Y. Campbell & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1989. "Consumption, Income and Interest Rates: Reinterpreting the Time Series Evidence," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1989, Volume 4, pages 185-246 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  29. 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.
  30. 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 254-259, April.
  31. Robert J. Shiller, 1984. "Stock Prices and Social Dynamics," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 719R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
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