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Washington meets Wall Street: A closer examination of the presidential cycle puzzle

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  • Kräussl, Roman
  • Lucas, André
  • Rijsbergen, David R.
  • van der Sluis, Pieter Jelle
  • Vrugt, Evert B.

Abstract

We show that average excess returns during the last two years of the presidential cycle are significantly higher than during the first two years: 9.8 percent over the period 1948 2008. This pattern in returns cannot be explained by business-cycle variables capturing time-varying risk premia, differences in risk levels, or by consumer and investor sentiment. In this paper, we formally test the presidential election cycle (PEC) hypothesis as the alternative explanation found in the literature for explaining the presidential cycle anomaly. PEC states that incumbent parties and presidents have an incentive to manipulate the economy (via budget expansions and taxes) to remain in power. We formulate eight empirically testable propositions relating to the fiscal, monetary, tax, unexpected inflation and political implications of the PEC hypothesis. We do not find statistically significant evidence confirming the PEC hypothesis as a plausible explanation for the presidential cycle effect. The existence of the presidential cycle effect in U.S. financial markets thus remains a puzzle that cannot be easily explained by politicians employing their economic influence to remain in power.

Suggested Citation

  • Kräussl, Roman & Lucas, André & Rijsbergen, David R. & van der Sluis, Pieter Jelle & Vrugt, Evert B., 2010. "Washington meets Wall Street: A closer examination of the presidential cycle puzzle," CFS Working Paper Series 2010/06, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:cfswop:201006
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Eric Dubois, 2016. "Political business cycles 40 years after Nordhaus," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 166(1), pages 235-259, January.
    2. Wisniewski, Tomasz Piotr, 2016. "Is there a link between politics and stock returns? A literature survey," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 15-23.
    3. Eric Dubois, 2016. "Political Business Cycles 40 Years after Nordhaus," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-01291401, HAL.
    4. repec:hal:journl:hal-01291401 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Political Economy; Market Efficiency; Anomalies; Calendar Effects;

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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