Political Cycles and Stock Returns
42 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2017
Date Written: February 2017
We develop a model of political cycles driven by time-varying risk aversion. Agents choose to work in the public or private sector and to vote Democrat or Republican. In equilibrium, when risk aversion is high, agents elect Democrats—the party promising more redistribution. The model predicts higher average stock market returns under Democratic presidencies, explaining the well-known “presidential puzzle.” The model can also explain why economic growth has been faster under Democratic presidencies. In the data, Democratic voters are more risk- averse and risk aversion declines during Democratic presidencies. Public workers vote Democrat while entrepreneurs vote Republican, as the model predicts.
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