What Explains the COVID-19 Stock Market?
What explains stock market behavior in the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic? Estimates from a dynamic asset pricing model point to wild fluctuations in the pricing of stock market risk, driven by shifts in risk aversion or sentiment. We find further evidence that the Federal Reserve played a role in these fluctuations, via a series of announcements outlining unprecedented steps to provide several trillion dollars in loans to support the economy. As of July 31 of 2020, however, only a tiny fraction of the credit that the central bank announced it stood ready to provide in early April had been extended, reinforcing the conclusion that market movements during COVID-19 have been more reflective of sentiment than substance.