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Do market prices aggregate information about macroeconomic uncertainty (or risk)?

James Cover and Hye-Jin Lee

Applied Economics, 2015, vol. 47, issue 42, 4511-4534

Abstract: This article examines several economic variables that represent either confidence in future economic conditions or the degree of risk/uncertainty about future conditions in order to determine which contain more information about future employment and output. Some of these variables are prices, while others are from surveys. Causality tests, historical decompositions within a VAR and out-of-sample forecasts are among the tools used. This article concludes that monthly stock returns contain much more information about future economic conditions than the other variables. The spread between Moody's BAA and AAA bonds, the spread between the constant maturity 10-year government bond and the federal funds rate, as well as uncertainty in future economic conditions as measured by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's Business Outlook Survey also provide information about future economic conditions. Notably, this article finds that monthly stock returns contain more information about future economic conditions than does the vix and that variables based on market prices provide more information than survey data. This result provides some support for the notion that market prices aggregate information.

Date: 2015
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DOI: 10.1080/00036846.2015.1031872

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