Bulletin – September Quarter 2014 A Century of Stock-Bond Correlations Abstract

The correlation between movements in equity prices and bond yields is an important input for portfolio asset allocation decisions. Throughout much of the 20th century, the correlation between equity prices and government bond yields in the United States and other countries, including Australia, fluctuated but tended to be negative. However, stock-bond yield correlations have been largely positive since the late 1990s, rose strongly during the global financial crisis and have since remained at a high level for a prolonged period. The more recent period of positive correlation in part reflects the pronounced and persistent effect of the financial crisis on the economic outlook, though it may also owe in part to an increase in the importance of uncertainty about real economic activity in driving both government bond yields and stock prices. Changes in US monetary policy look to have exerted an opposing force on the correlation at times, driving it lower.

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