Business Cycle Variation in the Risk-Return Trade-Off

Business Cycle Variation in the Risk-Return Trade-Off

By
Hanno Lustig, Adrien Verdelhan
Journal of Monetary Economics. December
2012, Vol. 59, Pages S35-S49

In the United States and other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, the expected returns on stocks, adjusted for volatility, are much higher in recessions than in expansions. We consider feasible trading strategies that buy or sell shortly after business cycle turning points that are identifiable in real time and involve holding periods of up to 1 year. The observed business cycle changes in expected returns are not spuriously driven by changes in expected near-term dividend growth. Our findings imply that value-maximizing managers face much higher risk-adjusted costs of capital in their investment decisions during recessions than expansions.