Trade Policy Uncertainty and Stock Returns
39 Pages Posted: 14 Mar 2019 Last revised: 11 Mar 2023
Date Written: September 22, 2021
A recent literature has documented large real effects of trade policy uncertainty (TPU) on trade, employment, and investment, but there is little evidence that investors are compensated for bearing such risk. To quantify the risk premium associated with TPU, we exploit quasi-experimental variation in exposure to TPU arising from Congressional votes to revoke China's preferential tariff treatment between 1990 and 2001. A long-short portfolio designed to isolate exposure to TPU earns a risk-adjusted return of 3.6-6.2% per year. This effect is larger in sectors less protected from globalization, and more reliant on inputs from China. Industries more exposed to trade policy uncertainty also had a larger drop in stock prices when the uncertainty began, and more volatile returns around key policy dates. Our results are not explained by the effects of policy uncertainty on expected cash-flows, investors' forecast errors, and import competition from China.
Keywords: trade policy, uncertainty, stock returns, risk premium
JEL Classification: F10, F13, G12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation