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Cyclical changes in firm volatility

Working paper 408
Working Papers

Gepubliceerd: 08 januari 2014

We estimate changes in firm-specific volatility in sales and earnings growth of US firms. We do so using an approach which better captures firm-specific volatility than commonly used dispersion measures do. Our results do not lend strong support to the common view that firm-specific volatility is counter-cyclical. The role of firmspecific volatility in explaining aggregate fluctuations is empirically very limited. This is evidence against the implication of irreversibility and financial accelerator theories that increases in firm-specific volatility cause macroeconomic downturns. Our measure also provides evidence on trends in firm volatility. Earlier findings of a trend increase in the volatility of publicly traded firms are completely overturned when we control for changes in sample composition. At the firm level, the 2007-2009 recession did not end the Great Moderation.

Keywords: Firm-Level Volatility, firm-specific shocks, business cycles
JEL codes C32, C33, D22, E32

Working paper no. 408

408 - Cyclical changes in firm volatility

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