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Consumption, aggregate wealth and expected stock returns

  • 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
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:77
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  1. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1991. "A simple estimator of cointegrating vectors in higher order integrated systems," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 91-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  2. John H. Cochrane, 1991. "Volatility Tests and Efficient Markets: A Review Essay," NBER Working Papers 3591, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. John Y. Campbell, 1986. "Does Saving Anticipate Declining Labor Income? An Alternative Test of the Permanent Income Hypothesis," NBER Working Papers 1805, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Cochrane, John H, 1994. "Permanent and Transitory Components of GNP and Stock Prices," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(1), pages 241-65, February.
  5. McCracken, Michael W., 2007. "Asymptotics for out of sample tests of Granger causality," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 140(2), pages 719-752, October.
  6. Todd E. Clark & Michael McCracken, 1999. "Tests of Equal Forecast Accuracy and Encompassing for Nested Models," Computing in Economics and Finance 1999 1241, Society for Computational Economics.
  7. Campbell, John Y, 1996. "Understanding Risk and Return," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(2), pages 298-345, April.
  8. Owen Lamont, 1996. "Earnings and Expected Returns," NBER Working Papers 5671, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Peter C.B. Phillips & Sam Ouliaris, 1987. "Asymptotic Properties of Residual Based Tests for Cointegration," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 847R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Jul 1988.
  10. 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.
  11. Todd E. Clark, 1996. "Finite-sample properties of tests for forecast equivalence," Research Working Paper 96-03, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  12. Robert J. Shiller, 1984. "Stock Prices and Social Dynamics," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 719R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  13. Cochrane, John H. & Campbell, John, 1999. "By Force of Habit: A Consumption-Based Explanation of Aggregate Stock Market Behavior," Scholarly Articles 3119444, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  14. Campbell, John Y, 1993. "Intertemporal Asset Pricing without Consumption Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 487-512, June.
  15. Campbell, John & Perron, Pierre, 1991. "Pitfalls and Opportunities: What Macroeconomists Should Know about Unit Roots," Scholarly Articles 3374863, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  16. Fama, Eugene F. & French, Kenneth R., 1989. "Business conditions and expected returns on stocks and bonds," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 23-49, November.
  17. Cumby, Robert E. & Modest, David M., 1987. "Testing for market timing ability : A framework for forecast evaluation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 169-189, September.
  18. Campbell, John Y., 1987. "Stock returns and the term structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 373-399, June.
  19. John Y. Campbell & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1989. "Consumption, Income, and Interest Rates: Reinterpreting the Time Series Evidence," NBER Working Papers 2924, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. John H. Cochrane, 1989. "Explaining the Variance of Price Dividend Ratios," NBER Working Papers 3157, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Stock, James H, 1987. "Asymptotic Properties of Least Squares Estimators of Cointegrating Vectors," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(5), pages 1035-56, September.
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  32. repec:fth:harver:1435 is not listed on IDEAS
  33. Shmuel Kandel & Robert F. Stambaugh, . "Modeling Expected Stock Returns for Long and Short Horizons," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 42-88, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
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