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Stock Volatility During the Recent Financial Crisis


  • G. William Schwert


This paper uses monthly returns from 1802-2010, daily returns from 1885-2010, and intraday returns from 1982-2010 in the United States to show how stock volatility has changed over time. It also uses various measures of volatility implied by option prices to infer what the market was expecting to happen in the months following the financial crisis in late 2008. This episode was associated with historically high levels of stock market volatility, particularly among financial sector stocks, but the market did not expect volatility to remain high for long and it did not. This is in sharp contrast to the prolonged periods of high volatility during the Great Depression. Similar analysis of stock volatility in the United Kingdom and Japan reinforces the notion that the volatility seen in the 2008 crisis was relatively short-lived. While there is a link between stock volatility and real economic activity, such as unemployment rates, it can be misleading.

Suggested Citation

  • G. William Schwert, 2011. "Stock Volatility During the Recent Financial Crisis," NBER Working Papers 16976, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16976
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    1. Choudhry, Taufiq & Hassan, Syed S. & Shabi, Sarosh, 2015. "Relationship between gold and stock markets during the global financial crisis: Evidence from nonlinear causality tests," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 247-256.
    2. R. López & E. Navarro, 2013. "Interest rate and stock return volatility indices for the Eurozone. Investors' gauges of fear during the recent financial crisis," Applied Financial Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(18), pages 1419-1432, September.
    3. Charles, Amélie & Darné, Olivier, 2014. "Large shocks in the volatility of the Dow Jones Industrial Average index: 1928–2013," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 188-199.
    4. Jin, Xiaoye, 2015. "Volatility transmission and volatility impulse response functions among the Greater China stock markets," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 43-58.
    5. Mencía, Javier & Sentana, Enrique, 2013. "Valuation of VIX derivatives," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(2), pages 367-391.
    6. Chatziantoniou, Ioannis & Filis, George & Floros, Christos, 2017. "Asset prices regime-switching and the role of inflation targeting monetary policy," Global Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 97-112.
    7. Lubberink, Martien, 2014. "Are banks’ below-par own debt repurchases a cause for prudential concern?," MPRA Paper 59475, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Pape, Katharina & Wied, Dominik & Galeano, Pedro, 2016. "Monitoring multivariate variance changes," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 39(PA), pages 54-68.
    9. Andrea Bastianin & Matteo Manera, 2015. "How Does Stock Market Volatility React to Oil Shocks?," Working Papers 2014.110, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    10. Tim Bollerslev & Viktor Todorov & Lai Xu, 2014. "Tail Risk Premia and Return Predictability," CREATES Research Papers 2014-49, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
    11. Bollerslev, Tim & Todorov, Viktor & Xu, Lai, 2015. "Tail risk premia and return predictability," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(1), pages 113-134.
    12. Ramona Dumitriu & Razvan Stefanescu, 2016. "Impact of the NYSE Shocks on the European Developed Capital Markets," Risk in Contemporary Economy, "Dunarea de Jos" University of Galati, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, pages 327-334.
    13. Wang, Xi & Yang, Jiao-Hui & Wang, Kai-Li & Fawson, Christopher, 2017. "Dynamic information spillovers in intraregionally-focused spot and forward currency markets," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 78-110.
    14. Lee, Seohyun, 2017. "Three essays on uncertainty: real and financial effects of uncertainty shocks," MPRA Paper 83617, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Mencía, Javier & Sentana, Enrique, 2015. "Volatility-related exchange traded assets: an econometric investigation," CEPR Discussion Papers 10444, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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    20. Apostolos Kourtis & Raphael N. Markellos & Lazaros Symeonidis, 2016. "An International Comparison of Implied, Realized, and GARCH Volatility Forecasts," Journal of Futures Markets, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 36(12), pages 1164-1193, December.
    21. Leonardo dos Santos Pinheiro & Flavio Codeco COelho, 2017. "An Agent-based Model of Contagion in Financial Networks," Papers 1703.07513,
    22. Kotkatvuori-Örnberg, Juha & Nikkinen, Jussi & Äijö, Janne, 2013. "Stock market correlations during the financial crisis of 2008–2009: Evidence from 50 equity markets," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 70-78.
    23. Christopher Boortz & Stephanie Kremer & Simon Jurkatis & Dieter Nautz, 2014. "Information Risk, Market Stress and Institutional Herding in Financial Markets: New Evidence Through the Lens of a Simulated Model," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2014-029, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
    24. Giglio, Stefano & Kelly, Bryan & Pruitt, Seth, 2016. "Systemic risk and the macroeconomy: An empirical evaluation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 119(3), pages 457-471.
    25. repec:eee:finlet:v:21:y:2017:i:c:p:201-205 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates

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