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Stock Returns and Expected Business Conditions: Half a Century of Direct Evidence

  • Sean D. Campbell
  • Francis X. Diebold

We explore the macro/finance interface in the context of equity markets. In particular, using half a century of Livingston expected business conditions data we characterize directly the impact of expected business conditions on expected excess stock returns. Expected business conditions consistently affect expected excess returns in a statistically and economically significant counter-cyclical fashion: depressed expected business conditions are associated with high expected excess returns. Moreover, inclusion of expected business conditions in otherwisestandard predictive return regressions substantially reduces the explanatory power of the conventional financial predictors, including the dividend yield, default premium, and term premium, while simultaneously increasing R-squared. Expected business conditions retain predictive power even after controlling for an important and recently introduced non-financial predictor, the generalized consumption/wealth ratio, which accords with the view that expected business conditions play a role in asset pricing different from and complementary to that of the consumption/wealth ratio. We argue that time-varying expected business conditions likely capture time-varying risk, while time-varying consumption/wealth may capture time-varying risk aversion.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11736.

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Date of creation: Nov 2005
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Publication status: published as Frank Diebold & Sean Campbell, 2005. "Stock returns and expected business conditions: half a century of direct evidence," Proceedings, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11736
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  1. 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.
  2. Robert J. Shiller & John Y. Campbell, 1986. "The Dividend-Price Ratio and Expectations of Future Dividends and Discount Factors," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 812, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  3. Schwert, G William, 1989. " Why Does Stock Market Volatility Change over Time?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 44(5), pages 1115-53, December.
  4. Ferson, Wayne E & Harvey, Campbell R, 1991. "The Variation of Economic Risk Premiums," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(2), pages 385-415, April.
  5. Leitch, Gordon & Tanner, J Ernest, 1991. "Economic Forecast Evaluation: Profits versus the Conventional Error Measures," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(3), pages 580-90, June.
  6. John Y. Campbell & John H. Cochrane, 1994. "By Force of Habit: A Consumption-Based Explanation of Aggregate Stock Market Behavior," CRSP working papers 412, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  7. Constantinides,George & Duffie,Darrel, 1992. "Asset pricing with heterogeneous consumers," Discussion Paper Serie A 381, University of Bonn, Germany.
  8. Peter F. Christoffersen & Francis X. Diebold, . "Optimal Prediction Under Asymmetric Loss," CARESS Working Papres 97-20, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  9. Chen, Nai-Fu & Roll, Richard & Ross, Stephen A, 1986. "Economic Forces and the Stock Market," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(3), pages 383-403, July.
  10. Martin Lettau & Sydney Ludvigson, 2001. "Resurrecting the (C)CAPM: A Cross-Sectional Test When Risk Premia Are Time-Varying," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(6), pages 1238-1287, December.
  11. repec:cup:etheor:v:13:y:1997:i:6:p:808-17 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Gultekin, N Bulent, 1983. " Stock Market Returns and Inflation Forecasts," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 38(3), pages 663-73, June.
  13. Sydney Ludvigson & Martin Lettau, 1999. "Consumption, aggregate wealth and expected stock returns," Staff Reports 77, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  14. Barro, Robert J, 1990. "The Stock Market and Investment," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 3(1), pages 115-31.
  15. Fama, Eugene F, 1990. " Stock Returns, Expected Returns, and Real Activity," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 45(4), pages 1089-1108, September.
  16. Torben G. Andersen & Tim Bollerslev & Francis X. Diebold & Jin Wu, 2005. "A Framework for Exploring the Macroeconomic Determinants of Systematic Risk," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 398-404, May.
  17. 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.
  18. Miller, Edward M, 1977. "Risk, Uncertainty, and Divergence of Opinion," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1151-68, September.
  19. John H. Cochrane & Monika Piazzesi, 2002. "Bond Risk Premia," NBER Working Papers 9178, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Hamilton, James D & Gang, Lin, 1996. "Stock Market Volatility and the Business Cycle," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(5), pages 573-93, Sept.-Oct.
  21. Dean Croushore, 1997. "The Livingston Survey: still useful after all these years," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Mar, pages 15-27.
  22. Campbell, John Y, 1991. "A Variance Decomposition for Stock Returns," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(405), pages 157-79, March.
  23. Hui Guo & Robert Savickas, 2005. "Idiosyncratic volatility, stock market volatility, and expected stock returns," Working Papers 2003-028, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  24. Fama, Eugene F. & French, Kenneth R., 1988. "Dividend yields and expected stock returns," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-25, October.
  25. John Y. Campbell & John Cochrane, 1999. "Force of Habit: A Consumption-Based Explanation of Aggregate Stock Market Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(2), pages 205-251, April.
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