Aurora Borealis
1 March 2000 Financial Analysts Journal Volume 56, Issue 2

Stocks versus Bonds: Explaining the Equity Risk Premium

  1. Clifford S. Asness

From the 19th century through the mid-20th century, the dividend yield (dividends/price) and earnings yield (earnings/price) on stocks generally exceeded the yield on long-term U.S. government bonds, usually by a substantial margin. Since the mid-20th century, however, the situation has radically changed. In addressing this situation, I argue that the difference between stock yields and bond yields is driven by the long-run difference in volatility between stocks and bonds. This model fits 1871–1998 data extremely well. Moreover, it explains the currently low stock market dividend and earnings yields. Many authors have found that although both stock yields forecast stock returns, they generally have more forecasting power for long horizons. I found, using data up to May 1998, that the portion of dividend and earnings yields explained by the model presented here has predictive power only over the long term whereas the portion not explained by the model has power largely over the short term.

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