50 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2004
Date Written: July 28, 2006
Our paper examines two potential proxies for investor sentiment - the closed end fund discount (CEFD) and consumer confidence (CC). We can validate these proxies against a recently available more direct proxy for investor sentiment from UBS/Gallup. We find that the CEFD has no correlation with the UBS/Gallup survey, while the consumer confidence index does. The latter correlation would likely not be observed if either the consumer confidence index or the UBS/Gallup survey were not measures of some form of generic sentiment.
This direct validation is not dependent on a price role for sentiment in financial markets. Going further, our paper finds that only consumer confidence but not the closed-end fund discount plays a robust role in financial market pricing. Changes in consumer confidence can explain the excess returns on small decile stocks. The pathway does not seem to operate only through the real underlying economy (consumption and corporate profits), and it is unaffected by controlling for a measure of CEO confidence changes.
Our evidence satisfies a necessary condition for a behavioral perspective (DeLong/Shleifer/Summers/Waldmann 1990), but it is not a sufficient condition. Absent quantitative predictions by either the behavioral or the classical perspective about the exact influence of sentiment/confidence, empirical evidence cannot reject either.
Keywords: investor sentiment, consumer confidence
JEL Classification: G14, G12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
By Meb Faber