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Federal Surplus/Deficit and Stock Returns

January 19, 2024 • Posted in Economic Indicators

Does the level of, or change in, the annual U.S. federal surplus/deficit systematically influence the U.S. stock market, perhaps by affecting consumption and thereby corporate earnings or by modifying inflation and thereby discount rates? To check, we relate annual stock market returns to the annual surplus/deficit (receipts minus outlays) as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). We align stock market returns with surplus/deficit calculations (federal fiscal years, FY) as follows: (1) prior to 1977, we calculate annual returns from July through June; (2) we ignore the July 1976 through September 1976 transition quarter; and, (3) since 1977, we calculate annual returns from October through September. Using surplus/deficit data and monthly returns for the S&P 500 Index (SP500) as a proxy for the U.S. stock market during FY 1930 through FY 2023 (about 94 years), we find that: (more…)

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