Do stocks provide a hedge against inflation? : an empirical analysis of Australian data.

2017-02-14T00:50:26Z (GMT) by Rushdi, Mustabshira
Economic and financial theories postulate that stocks should provide a hedge against expected inflation. Since the work of Fisher (1930), there has been on-going empirical investigation into testing the relationships between stock price indices and consumer price indices, in levels and first differences. The findings of these investigations are mixed. One concern is that the methodological issues associated with these studies are not adequately addressed in the literature. The main contribution of this thesis is to identify and improve upon the weaknesses of some of the methodologies employed for testing this relationship and apply the improved methods to Australian data. This thesis conducts investigation into the short run and long run relationships between Australian stock and consumer price indices, in levels and first differences, using bivariate and multivariate frameworks. In addition, this thesis examines, whether or not, the major monetary policy change introduced by the Reserve Bank of Australia in January 1990, has had any significant influence on these relationships. During the period leading up to this change, Australia experienced a high inflationary environment. Using the quarterly data for the period 1969 to 2008 and employing vector autoregression (VAR), autoregressive distributed lag (ARDL) models and bootstrap methods, this thesis presents robust statistical inference on the relationships between stock and consumer price indices. A review of the literature suggests that previous empirical studies investigating this relationship paid inadequate attention to improving the statistical inference on the long run parameters. This thesis makes two major improvements to the methodologies used by previous empirical studies: one is the construction of bootstrap confidence intervals for VAR impulse responses. The other is the estimation of the long run model parameters that are nonlinear functions of those of ARDL models by employing bootstrap methods. Traditionally, OLS and delta methods are used to estimate these long run parameters, although the latter method is known to work well only with large samples under normality. Such strong requirements do not appear to be satisfied for the empirical models studied in the thesis. Here, a bias-corrected bootstrap method for estimating long run model parameters and their confidence intervals is adopted when the normality assumption is violated, and the wild bootstrap method is adopted when both normality and homoscedasticity assumptions are violated. Based on the VAR impulse response functions and bootstrap confidence intervals, this thesis finds that there is a short run negative relationship between stock returns and inflation. The long run ARDL model estimates indicate that the real stock returns are independent of expected inflation, suggesting that Australian stocks constitute a good hedge against expected inflation. Furthermore, the empirical results indicate that the relationship between stock returns and inflation is not affected by the major monetary policy change introduced in January 1990. No evidence of a long run relation between real stock prices and consumer prices was found for the more recent low inflationary period. Based on the empirical evidence presented in the thesis, the overall conclusion is that Australian stocks provide a hedge against inflation, from which domestic and foreign investors can benefit.