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Do Markets Respond More to More Reliable Labor Market Data? A Test of Market Rationality

  • Alan B. Krueger

    (Princeton University and NBER)

  • Kenneth N. Forston

    (Princeton University)

Since 1979, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has nearly quadrupled the size of the sample used to estimate monthly employment changes. Although first-reported employment estimates are still noisy, the magnitude of sampling variability has declined in proportion to the increase in the sample size. A model of rational Bayesian updating predicts that investors would assign more weight to the BLS employment survey as it became more precise. However, a regression analysis of changes in interest rates on the day the employment data are released finds no evidence that the bond market’s reaction to employment news intensified in the late 1980s or 1990s; indeed, in the late 1990s and early 2000s the bond markets hardly reacted to unexpected employment news. For the time period as a whole, an unexpected increase of 200,000 jobs is associated with about a 6 basis point increase in the interest rate on 30 year Treasury bonds, and an 8 basis point increase in the interest rate on 3 month bills, all else equal. Additionally, unexpected changes in the unemployment rate and revisions to past months’ employment estimates have statistically insignificant effects on long-term interest rates.

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File URL: http://www.princeton.edu/ceps/workingpapers/88krueger.pdf
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Paper provided by Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies. in its series Working Papers with number 114.

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Date of creation: Jan 2003
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Handle: RePEc:pri:cepsud:88krueger
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  1. Pearce, Douglas K & Roley, V Vance, 1985. "Stock Prices and Economic News," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58(1), pages 49-67, January.
  2. Hardouvelis, Gikas A., 1988. "Economic news, exchange rates and interest rates," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 23-35, March.
  3. John H. Boyd & Jian Hu & Ravi Jagannathan, 2005. "The Stock Market's Reaction to Unemployment News: Why Bad News Is Usually Good for Stocks," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(2), pages 649-672, 04.
  4. McQueen, Grant & Roley, V Vance, 1993. "Stock Prices, News, and Business Conditions," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 6(3), pages 683-707.
  5. N. Gregory Mankiw & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1986. "News or Noise? An Analysis of GNP Revisions," NBER Working Papers 1939, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-38, May.
  7. De Bondt, Werner F M & Thaler, Richard, 1985. " Does the Stock Market Overreact?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 40(3), pages 793-805, July.
  8. Charles M. Jones & Owen Lamont & Robin Lumsdaine, 1996. "Public Information and the Persistence of Bond Market Volatility," NBER Working Papers 5446, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Schwert, G William, 1981. "The Adjustment of Stock Prices to Information about Inflation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 36(1), pages 15-29, March.
  10. Shiller, Robert J, 1979. "The Volatility of Long-Term Interest Rates and Expectations Models of the Term Structure," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1190-1219, December.
  11. Saunders, Edward M, Jr, 1993. "Stock Prices and Wall Street Weather," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1337-45, December.
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