October 2013, lead article, with B. Kelly
Returns and cash flow growth for the aggregate U.S. stock market are highly and robustly predictable. Using a single factor extracted from the cross section of book- to-market ratios, we find an out-of-sample return forecasting R-squared as high as 13% at the annual frequency (0.9% monthly). We document similar out-of-sample predictability for returns on value, size, momentum and industry-sorted portfolios. We present a model linking aggregate market expectations to disaggregated valuation ratios in a dynamic latent factor system. We find that spreads in growth and value portfolios’ exposures to economic shocks are key to identifying predictability and are consistent with duration-based theories of the value premium. Our findings suggest that discount rates are far less persistent, and their shocks far more volatile, than implied by leading asset pricing models.
Awarded 2011 Q Group Research Grant (per law, Pruitt did not accept grant money)