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The Equity Risk Premium amid a Global Financial Crisis

By John R. Graham and Campbell R. Harvey


We analyze the history of the equity risk premium from surveys of U.S. chief financial officers (CFOs) conducted every quarter from June 2000 to March 2009. The risk premium is the expected 10-year S&P 500 return relative to a 10-year U.S. Treasury bond yield. The last two surveys were conducted during the darkest parts of a global financial crisis, and our results show that the equity premium sharply increased during the crisis. The survey also provides measures of cross-sectional disagreement about the risk premium, skewness, and a measure of individual uncertainty. The level of disagreement in late 2008 and early 2009 is 64 percent higher than 2007 levels. We also present evidence on the determinants of the long-run risk premium. Our analysis suggests the level of the risk premium closely tracks both market volatility (reflected in the VIX index) as well as credit spreads

Year: 2010
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