Have Individual Stocks Become More Volatile? An Empirical Exploration of Idiosyncratic Risk
59 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2000 Last revised: 17 Oct 2010
Date Written: March 2000
This paper uses a disaggregated approach to study the volatility of common stocks at the market, industry, and firm levels. Over the period 1962-97 there has been a noticeable increase in firm-level volatility relative to market volatility. Accordingly correlations among individual stocks and the explanatory power of the market model for a typical stock have declined, while the number of stocks needed to achieve a given level of diversification has increased. All the volatility measures move together countercyclically and help to predict GDP growth. Market volatility tends to lead the other volatility series. Factors that may be responsible for these findings are suggested.
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