Is Unlevered Firm Volatility Asymmetric?
Posted: 8 Jan 2012
Date Written: January 5, 2012
Asymmetric volatility refers to the stylized fact that stock volatility is negatively correlated to stock returns. Traditionally, this phenomenon has been explained by the financial leverage effect. This explanation has recently been challenged in favor of a risk premium based explanation. We develop a new, unlevering approach to document how well financial leverage, rather than size, beta, book-to-market, or operating leverage, explains volatility asymmetry on a firm-by-firm basis. Our results reveal that, at the firm level, financial leverage explains much of the volatility asymmetry. This result is robust to different unlevering methodologies, samples, and measurement intervals. However, we find that financial leverage does not explain index-level volatility asymmetry. We show that this difference between index-level asymmetry and firm-level asymmetry is driven by the asymmetry of the unlevered covariance component of index volatility.
Keywords: volatility asymmetry, financial leverage, leverage effect
JEL Classification: G12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation