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Presidential parties, monetary regimes, and health care returns

Jeffery Scott Bredthauer, Brian C. Payne, Jiri Tresl and Gordon V. Karels

Managerial Finance, 2015, vol. 41, issue 10, 1059-1076

Abstract: Purpose - – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the absolute and risk-adjusted stock return performance of the US health care industry conditional upon the presidential administration’s political party and the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy stance. It evaluates this return behavior across the 60-year time period from 1954 to 2013, and sub-divides this entire period into the pre-Medicare period (1954-1964), Medicare period (1965-1984), and Medicare-plus-high-health-care-inflation period (1985-2013). Design/methodology/approach - – The study uses monthly returns to the health care industry and overall market, characterizing each sample month as either having a Republican or Democratic president and either a contractionary or expansionary monetary policy regime determined by whether the Federal Reserve is increasing or decreasing interest rates, respectively. It incorporates univariate and multivariate analysis to quantify the return behavior of both the health care industry and the overall market during the entire period and all three sub-periods. Additionally, it utilizes a common four-factor multivariate regression model and associated hypothesis testing to characterize risk-adjusted excess returns (i.e. Findings - – The health care industry has earned robust, positive risk-adjusted returns with the magnitude of the returns sensitive to the political party of the administration and the monetary policy regime. The authors find that prior to 1965 (1954-1964), when the president was a Republican, during times of monetary contraction, health care earned an excess risk-adjusted return. There was no association between Democratic administrations and excess health care returns prior to 1965. In contrast, the authors find that after 1965 this relationship changes. The authors find that returns to health care were positive for Republicans during times of monetary expansion and positive for Democrats during monetary contraction. The authors also find this relationship has become more pronounced after 1984. Originality/value - – The study extends prior literature, which has shown that the health care industry is a priced factor in the US stock market and that it provides significant risk-adjusted returns in the recent past. Uniquely, this study shows that the excess returns to health care vary considerably over the past 60 years, and that these excess returns are quite sensitive to political policy, proxied by the presidential administration party, and monetary policy, as measured using Fed discount rate changes. These findings have implications for management and shareholders of highly regulated and subsidized industries and firms.

Keywords: Health care; Politics; Monetary policy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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