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Economic Indicators

The U.S. economy is a very complex system, with indicators therefore ambiguous and difficult to interpret. To what degree do macroeconomics and the stock market go hand-in-hand, if at all? Do investors/traders: (1) react to economic readings; (2) anticipate them; or, (3) just muddle along, mostly fooled by randomness? These blog entries address relationships between economic indicators and the stock market.

Stock Market Earnings Yield and Inflation Over the Long Run

How does the U.S. stock market earnings yield (inverse of price-to-earnings ratio, or E/P) interact with the U.S. inflation rate over the long run? Is any such interaction exploitable? To investigate, we employ the long run dataset of Robert Shiller. Using monthly data for the S&P Composite Stock Index, estimated aggregate trailing 12-month earnings and dividends for the stocks in this index, and estimated U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI) during January 1871 through February 2022 (over 151 years), and estimated monthly yield on 1-year U.S. Treasury bills (T-bills) since January 1951, we find that:

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Alternative Yield Discount (Inflation) Rates

Investors arguably expect that investments generate returns in excess of the inflation rate. Do different measures of the inflation rate indicate materially different yield discounts? To investigate, we relate 12-month trailing S&P 500 annual operating earnings yield (E/P), S&P 500 12-month trailing annual dividend yield, 10-year U.S. Treasury note (T-note) yield and 3-month U.S. Treasury bill (T-bill) yield to four measures of annual U.S. inflation rate:

  1. Non-seasonally adjusted inflation rate based on the total Consumer Price Index (CPI) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (retroactive revisions of seasonal adjustments interfere with historical analysis).
  2. Non-seasonally adjusted inflation rate based on core CPI from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  3. Inflation rate based on the Personal Consumption Expenditures: Chain-type Price Index (PCE) from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  4. Trimmed mean PCE from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

The CPI measurements have a delay of about two weeks, and the PCE measurements have a delay of about a month. Using monthly data for all variables during March 1989 (limited by earnings data) through January 2022, we find that… Keep Reading

Consumer Credit and Consumer Discretionary Sector Returns

“Consumer Credit and Stock Returns” finds that expansion (contraction) of consumer credit, available monthly from the Federal reserve with a delay of about five weeks, has little or no power to predict overall stock market returns. Might consumer credit be useful in predicting returns for just the consumer discretionary sector, as proxied by Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLY)? Using monthly seasonally adjusted total U.S. consumer credit and monthly dividend-adjusted prices for XLY as available during December 1998 (inception of XLY) through January 2022, we find that: Keep Reading

Commercial and Industrial Credit as a Stock Market Driver

Does commercial and industrial (C&I) credit fuel business growth and thereby drive the stock market? To investigate, we relate changes in credit standards from the Federal Reserve Board’s quarterly Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Lending Practices to future U.S. stock market returns. Presumably, loosening (tightening) of credit standards is good (bad) for stocks. The Federal Reserve publishes survey results a few days after the end of the first month of each quarter (January, April, July and October). Using as-released “Net Percentage of Domestic Respondents Tightening Standards for C&I Loans” for large and medium businesses from the Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Lending Practices Chart Data for the second quarter of 1990 through the first quarter of 2022 (129 surveys), and contemporaneous S&P 500 Index quarterly returns (aligned to survey months), we find that: Keep Reading

Federal Reserve Holdings and the U.S. Stock Market

Using quarterly data in their April 2013 paper entitled “Analyzing Federal Reserve Asset Purchases: From Whom Does the Fed Buy?” Seth Carpenter, Selva Demiralp, Jane Ihrig and Elizabeth Klee find that some categories of investors appear to sell U.S. Treasuries to the Federal Reserve and rebalance toward riskier assets (corporate bonds, commercial paper, and municipal debt). Are stocks, proxied by for SPDR S&P 500 (SPY), a part of this process? To investigate, we relate weekly, monthly and quarterly U.S. stock market returns to changes in the Federal Reserve’s System Open Market Account (SOMA) holdings, comprised of U.S. Treasury bills, U.S. Treasury notes and bonds, U.S. Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIP) and Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBS). The Federal Reserve reports these holdings as of Wednesday, typically with a 1-day lag. Using weekly (Thursday close) dividend-adjusted prices for SPY and weekly total SOMA holdings during early July 2003 through January 2022, we find that:

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Recent Interactions of Asset Classes with Effective Federal Funds Rate

How do returns of different asset classes recently interact with the Effective Federal Funds Rate (EFFR)? We focus on monthly changes (simple differences) in EFFR  and look at lead-lag relationships between change in EFFR and returns for each of the following 10 exchange-traded fund (ETF) asset class proxies:

  • Equities:
    • SPDR S&P 500 (SPY)
    • iShares Russell 2000 Index (IWM)
    • iShares MSCI EAFE Index (EFA)
    • iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index (EEM)
  • Bonds:
    • iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond (TLT)
    • iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond (LQD)
    • iShares JPMorgan Emerging Markets Bond Fund (EMB)
  • Real assets:
    • Vanguard REIT ETF (VNQ)
    • SPDR Gold Shares (GLD)
    • Invesco DB Commodity Index Tracking (DBC)

Using monthly EFFR and monthly dividend-adjusted prices for the 10 specified ETFs during December 2007 (limited by EMB) through December 2021, we find that: Keep Reading

Recent Interactions of Asset Classes with Economic Policy Uncertainty

How do returns of different asset classes recently interact with uncertainty in government economic policy as quantified by the Economic Policy Uncertainty (EPU) Index? This index at the beginning of each month incorporates from the prior month:

  1. Coverage of policy-related economic uncertainty by prominent newspapers (50% weight).
  2. Number of temporary federal tax code provisions set to expire in future years (one sixth weight).
  3. Level of disagreement in one-year forecasts among participants in the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s Survey of Professional Forecasters for both (a) the consumer price index (one sixth weight) and (b) purchasing of goods and services by federal, state and local governments (one sixth weight).

Because the historical EPU Index series includes substantial revisions to prior months, we focus on monthly percentage changes in EPU Index and look at lead-lag relationships between change in EPU Index and returns for each of the following 10 exchange-traded fund (ETF) asset class proxies:

  • Equities:
    • SPDR S&P 500 (SPY)
    • iShares Russell 2000 Index (IWM)
    • iShares MSCI EAFE Index (EFA)
    • iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index (EEM)
  • Bonds:
    • iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond (TLT)
    • iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond (LQD)
    • iShares JPMorgan Emerging Markets Bond Fund (EMB)
  • Real assets:
    • Vanguard REIT ETF (VNQ)
    • SPDR Gold Shares (GLD)
    • Invesco DB Commodity Index Tracking (DBC)

Using monthly levels of the EPU Index and monthly dividend-adjusted prices for the 10 specified ETFs during December 2007 (limited by EMB) through December 2021, we find that: Keep Reading

Recent Interactions of Asset Classes with Inflation (PPI)

How do returns of different asset classes recently interact with inflation as measured by monthly change in the not seasonally adjusted, all-commodities producer price index (PPI) from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics? To investigate, we look at lead-lag relationships between change in PPI and returns for each of the following 10 exchange-traded fund (ETF) asset class proxies:

  • Equities:
    • SPDR S&P 500 (SPY)
    • iShares Russell 2000 Index (IWM)
    • iShares MSCI EAFE Index (EFA)
    • iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index (EEM)
  • Bonds:
    • iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond (TLT)
    • iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond (LQD)
    • iShares JPMorgan Emerging Markets Bond Fund (EMB)
  • Real assets:
    • Vanguard REIT ETF (VNQ)
    • SPDR Gold Shares (GLD)
    • Invesco DB Commodity Index Tracking (DBC)

Using monthly total PPI values and monthly dividend-adjusted prices for the 10 specified ETFs during December 2007 (limited by EMB) through December 2021, we find that: Keep Reading

Recent Interactions of Asset Classes with Inflation (CPI)

How do returns of different asset classes recently interact with inflation as measured by monthly change in the not seasonally adjusted, all-items consumer price index (CPI) from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics? To investigate, we look at lead-lag relationships between change in CPI and returns for each of the following 10 exchange-traded fund (ETF) asset class proxies:

  • Equities:
    • SPDR S&P 500 (SPY)
    • iShares Russell 2000 Index (IWM)
    • iShares MSCI EAFE Index (EFA)
    • iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index (EEM)
  • Bonds:
    • iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond (TLT)
    • iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond (LQD)
    • iShares JPMorgan Emerging Markets Bond Fund (EMB)
  • Real assets:
    • Vanguard REIT ETF (VNQ)
    • SPDR Gold Shares (GLD)
    • Invesco DB Commodity Index Tracking (DBC)

Using monthly total CPI values and monthly dividend-adjusted prices for the 10 specified ETFs during December 2007 (limited by EMB) through December 2021, we find that: Keep Reading

Labor Force Participation Rate and Stock Market Returns

Does the labor force participation rate, measured monthly by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics along with employment and unemployment rate, predict U.S. stock market returns? An increasing (decreasing) participation rate may may indicate strong (weak) employment demand and therefore a strong (weak) economy. To investigate, we relate participation rate to performance of the S&P 500 Index as a proxy for the stock market. Using monthly participation rate and index level during January 1948 (limited by the former) through December 2021, we find that: Keep Reading

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