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The Use of Volatility Measures in Assessing Market Efficiency

  • Robert J. Shiller

My initial motivation for considering volatility measures in the efficient markets models was to clarify the basic smoothing properties of the models to allow an understanding of the assumptions which are implicit in the notion of market efficiency. The efficient markets models, which are described in section II below ,relate a price today to the expected present value of a path of future variables. Since present values are long weighted moving averages, it would seem that price data should be very stable and smooth. These impressions can be formalized in terms of inequalities describing certain variances (section III). The results ought to be of interest whether or not the data satisfy these inequalities, and the procedures ought not to be regarded as just "another test" of market efficiency. Our confidence of our understanding of empirical phenomena is enhanced when we learn how such an obvious property of data as its "smoothness" relates to the model, and to alternative models (section IV below).On further examination of the volatility inequalities, it became clear that the inequalities may also suggest formal tests of market efficiency that have distinct advantages over conventional tests. These advantages take the form of greater power in certain circumstances of robustness to data errors such as misalignment and of simplicity and understandability. An interpretation of volatility tests versus regression tests in terms of the likelihood principle is offered in section V.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 0565.

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Date of creation: Oct 1980
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Publication status: published as Shiller, Robert J. "The Use of Volatility Measures in Assessing Market Efficiency." The Journal of Finance, Vol. XXXVI, No. 2, (May 1981), pp. 291-304 .
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0565
Note: ME
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  1. Sanford J. Grossman & Robert J. Shiller, 1980. "The Determinants of the Variability of Stock Market Prices," NBER Working Papers 0564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Merton H. Miller & Franco Modigliani, 1961. "Dividend Policy, Growth, and the Valuation of Shares," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34, pages 411.
  3. LeRoy, Stephen F & Porter, Richard D, 1981. "The Present-Value Relation: Tests Based on Implied Variance Bounds," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(3), pages 555-74, May.
  4. Singleton, Kenneth J, 1980. "Expectations Models of the Term Structure and Implied Variance Bounds," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(6), pages 1159-76, December.
  5. Pesando, James E., 1983. "On expectations, term premiums and the volatility of long-term interest rates," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 467-474, September.
  6. Richard A. Meese & Kenneth J. Singleton, 1980. "Rational expectations, risk premia, and the market for spot and forward exchange," International Finance Discussion Papers 165, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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