NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Cross-sectional Skewness

Simon Oh, Jessica A. Wachter

NBER Working Paper No. 25113
Issued in September 2018
NBER Program(s):The Asset Pricing Program

This paper evaluates skewness in the cross-section of stock returns in light of predictions from a well-known class of models. Cross-sectional skewness in monthly returns far exceeds what the standard lognormal model of returns would predict. However, skewness in long-run returns substantially understates what the lognormal model would predict. Nonstationary share dynamics imply a breakdown in the distinction between market and idiosyncratic risk in the lognormal model. We present an alternative model that matches the skewness in the data and implies stationary wealth shares. In this model, idiosyncratic risk is the primary driver of growth in the economy.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25113

 
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