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Uncertainty Shocks as Second-Moment News Shocks

Stefano Giglio, Ian Dew-Becker () and David Berger
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Stefano Giglio: University of Chicago
David Berger: Northwestern University

No 403, 2017 Meeting Papers from Society for Economic Dynamics

Abstract: This paper provides new empirical evidence on the relationship between aggregate uncertainty and the macroeconomy. We identify uncertainty shocks using methods from the literature on news shocks, following the observation that second-moment news is a shock to uncertainty. According to a wide range of VAR specifications, shocks to uncertainty have no significant effect on the economy, even though shocks to realized stock market volatility are contractionary. In other words, realized volatility, rather than uncertainty about the future, is associated with contractions. Furthermore, investors have historically paid large premia to hedge shocks to realized volatility, but the premia associated with shocks to uncertainty have not been statistically different from zero. We argue that these facts are consistent with the predictions of a simple model in which aggregate technology shocks are negatively skewed. So volatility matters, but it is the realization of volatility, rather than uncertainty about the future, that seems to be associated with declines.

Date: 2017
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