Short and Long Run Uncertainty
46 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2017 Last revised: 11 Sep 2021
Date Written: August 2017
Uncertainty appears to have both a short-run and a long-run component, which we measure using firm and macro implied volatility data from options of 30 days to 10 years duration. We ask what may be driving uncertainty over these different time horizons, finding that oil price volatility is particularly important for short-run uncertainty, policy uncertainty is particularly important for long-run uncertainty, while currency volatility and CEO turnover appear to equally impact short- and long-run uncertainty. Examining a panel of over 4,000 firms from 1996 to 2013 we find that R&D is relatively more sensitive to long-run uncertainty than investment, and in turn investment is relatively more sensitive to long-run uncertainty than hiring. In a simulation model we investigate the channels underlying this pecking-order response to long-run uncertainty, and show that lower depreciation rates and higher adjustment costs lead R&D and investment to be more sensitive to longer-run uncertainty than hiring. Collectively, these results suggest that recent events that have raised long-run policy uncertainty may be particularly damaging to growth by reducing R&D and investment.
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