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Stock returns and the US dollar: the importance of monetary policy

J. Christopher Hughen and Scott Beyer

Managerial Finance, 2015, vol. 41, issue 10, 1046-1058

Abstract: Purpose - – In the increasingly globalized economy, foreign exchange fluctuations have multiple, conflicting effects on domestic stock prices. The purpose of this paper is to examine return data to determine the relation between the dollar’s value and stock prices as it relates to monetary policy. Design/methodology/approach - – The authors examine US stock returns over a 40-year period, which is classified according to monetary policy and dollar trend. To better understand the impact of foreign exchange fluctuations, the authors estimate a model of stock returns using the three Fama-French factors and a momentum factor. Then the authors explore the underlying economic fundamentals that drive the sharp difference in annual returns between periods when the dollar is in an uptrend trend with loose monetary policy and periods when the dollar is in a downtrend with tight monetary policy. Findings - – Over the last 40 years, US stock returns were 2.5 times higher when the dollar was trending up vs down. The factor model of returns shows that equity returns are positively associated with periods when the dollar appreciated. Returns were particularly high when the dollar was in an uptrend during accommodative monetary policy. During these periods, stocks in the consumer goods and services industries provided relatively high returns. This occurred with strong economic growth due to consumer spending. Stocks exhibited the lowest returns when the dollar was depreciating and the Federal Reserve was tightening. Originality/value - – The key contribution of the research is that currency trends should be analyzed in the light of monetary policy. During periods of accommodative monetary policy and dollar appreciation, the US stock market provided average returns of 18.7 percent compared to -3.29 percent during a period of restrictive monetary policy and dollar depreciation. This result is driven by stronger economic growth, which is composed of consumer spending that more than offsets the dollar’s impact on net exports.

Keywords: Growth; Monetary policy; Stock returns; Foreign exchange (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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