Market efficiency, asset returns, and the size of the risk premium in global equity markets
An important economic insight is that observed equity prices must equal the present value of the cash flows associated with the equity claim. An implication of this insight is that present values of cash flows must also quantitatively justify the observed volatility and cross-correlations of asset returns. In this paper, we show that parametric economic models for present values can indeed account for the observed high ex post return volatility and cross-correlation observed across five major equity markets - the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, and Japan. We present evidence that cash flow growth rates contain a small predictable long-run component; this feature, in conjunction with time-varying systematic risk, can justify key empirical characteristics of observed equity prices. Our model also has direct implications for the level of equity prices and specific versions of the model can, in many cases, capture observed price levels. Our evidence suggests that the ex ante risk premium on the global market portfolio has dropped considerably - we show that this fall in the risk premium is related to a decline in the conditional variance of global real cash flow growth rates. © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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