Fabio Fornari, Antonio Mele

Open access

Financial Volatility and Economic Activity

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Capital Markets Uncertainty; Asset Prices and the Business Cycle; Macroeconomic Risk; Volatility Spillovers; the Great Moderation

Does uncertainty in capital markets affect the business cycle? We find that financial volatility predicts 30% of post-war economic activity in the United States, and that during the Great Moderation, aggregate stock market volatility explains, alone, up to 55% of real growth. In out-of-sample tests, stock price volatility helps predict turning points over and above traditional financial variables such as credit or term spreads, and other leading indicators. Combining stock volatility and the term spread leads to a proxy for (i) aggregate risk, (ii) risk-premiums and (iii) a gauge of monetary policy conduct, which tracks and anticipates the business cycle. At the heart of our analysis is a notion of volatility based on a slowly changing measure of return variability. This volatility is designed to capture long-run uncertainty in capital markets, and is particularly successful at explaining trends in the economic activity at horizons of six months and one year.

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