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Financial Volatility and Economic Activity

  • Antonio Mele

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Does capital markets uncertainty affect the business cycle? We find that financial volatility predicts 30% of post-war economic activity in the United States, and that during the Great Moderation, aggregate stock market volatility explains, alone, up to 55% of real growth. In out-of-sample tests, we find that stock volatility helps predict turning points over and above traditional financial variables such as credit or term spreads, and other leading indicators. Combining stock volatility and the term spread leads to a proxy for (i) aggregate risk, (ii) risk-premiums and (iii) monetary policy, which is found to track, and anticipate, the business cycle. At the heart of our analysis is a notion of volatility based on a slowly changing measure of return variability. This volatility is designed to capture long-run uncertainty in capital markets, and is particularly successful at explaining trends in the economic activity at horizons of six months and one year.

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Paper provided by Financial Markets Group in its series FMG Discussion Papers with number dp642.

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Date of creation: Nov 2009
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Handle: RePEc:fmg:fmgdps:dp642
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/fmg/

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  1. Diebold, Francis X & Mariano, Roberto S, 1995. "Comparing Predictive Accuracy," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 13(3), pages 253-63, July.
  2. Nicholas Barberis & Ming Huang & Tano Santos, 1999. "Prospect Theory and Asset Prices," NBER Working Papers 7220, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Malkiel, Burton & Campbell, John & Lettau, Martin & Xu, Yexiao, 2001. "Have Individual Stocks Become More Volatile? An Empirical Exploration of Idiosyncratic Risk," Scholarly Articles 3128707, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Tobias Adrian & Joshua Rosenberg, 2008. "Stock Returns and Volatility: Pricing the Short-Run and Long-Run Components of Market Risk," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 63(6), pages 2997-3030, December.
  5. Mele, Antonio, 2007. "Asymmetric stock market volatility and the cyclical behavior of expected returns," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 446-478, November.
  6. Ser-Huang Poon & Clive W.J. Granger, 2003. "Forecasting Volatility in Financial Markets: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(2), pages 478-539, June.
  7. Estrella, Arturo & Hardouvelis, Gikas A, 1991. " The Term Structure as a Predictor of Real Economic Activity," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 46(2), pages 555-76, June.
  8. Stock, J.H. & Watson, M.W., 1989. "New Indexes Of Coincident And Leading Economic Indicators," Papers 178d, Harvard - J.F. Kennedy School of Government.
  9. Merton, Robert C., 1980. "On estimating the expected return on the market : An exploratory investigation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 323-361, December.
  10. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1992. "A Procedure for Predicting Recessions With Leading Indicators: Econometric Issues and Recent Experience," NBER Working Papers 4014, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Robert F. Engle & Jose Gonzalo Rangel, 2008. "The Spline-GARCH Model for Low-Frequency Volatility and Its Global Macroeconomic Causes," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 21(3), pages 1187-1222, May.
  12. Olivier Blanchard & John Simon, 2001. "The Long and Large Decline in U.S. Output Volatility," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 32(1), pages 135-174.
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