Financial Asset Returns, Direction-of-Change Forecasting, and Volatility Dynamics

Peter F. Christoffersen, Francis X. Diebold

NBER Working Paper No. 10009
Issued in October 2003
NBER Program(s):Economic Fluctuations and Growth, Asset Pricing

We consider three sets of phenomena that feature prominently and separately in the financial economics literature: conditional mean dependence (or lack thereof) in asset returns, dependence (and hence forecastability) in asset return signs, and dependence (and hence forecastability) in asset return volatilities. We show that they are very much interrelated, and we explore the relationships in detail. Among other things, we show that: (a) Volatility dependence produces sign dependence, so long as expected returns are nonzero, so that one should expect sign dependence, given the overwhelming evidence of volatility dependence; (b) The standard finding of little or no conditional mean dependence is entirely consistent with a significant degree of sign dependence and volatility dependence; (c) Sign dependence is not likely to be found via analysis of sign autocorrelations, runs tests, or traditional market timing tests, because of the special nonlinear nature of sign dependence; (d) Sign dependence is not likely to be found in very high-frequency (e.g., daily) or very low-frequency (e.g., annual) returns; instead, it is more likely to be found at intermediate return horizons; (e) Sign dependence is very much present in actual U.S. equity returns, and its properties match closely our theoretical predictions; (f) The link between volatility forecastability and sign forecastability remains intact in conditionally non-Gaussian environments, as for example with time-varying conditional skewness and/or kurtosis.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w10009

Published: Christoffersen, Peter F. and Francis X. Diebold. "Financial Asset Returns, Direction-of-Change Forecasting, and Volatility Dynamics." Management Science 52 (2006): 1273-1287. citation courtesy of

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