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The stock-bond return relation, the term structure’s slope, and asset-class risk dynamics

Christopher T. Stivers, PhD N. Bansal R. Connolly
Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis. May 12, 2014

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We study whether asset-class risk dynamics can help explain the predominantly negative stock-bond return relation and movements in the term structure’s slope over 1997–2011. Using option-derived implied volatilities to measure risk, we find i) the negative stock-bond return relation largely disappears when controlling for risk movements, at both monthly and weekly horizons; ii) the partial relation between equity-risk changes and 10-year T-bond excess returns (term-slope movements) is reliably positive (negative); and iii) a stronger link between equity risk and stock returns implies a more negative stock-bond return correlation. Our results suggest a flight-to-quality influence between equity-risk dynamics and longer-term Treasury pricing.