Essays on stock liquidity and stock return predictability
Eaton, Gregory William
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I examine the effects of stock liquidity on asset values and whether aggregate stock liquidity and other forecasting instruments predict stock market returns. In the first chapter, I use tick-size reductions in equity markets as sources of exogenous variation in liquidity to examine the causal effect of transaction costs on firm value. In contrast to the prevailing view, I find that increased liquidity has a marginal or, in some cases, negative impact on firm value. The second chapter evaluates the predictive content of aggregate liquidity for economic activity and stock returns. We decompose illiquidity into a component capturing aggregate volatility and a volatility-adjusted component and find strong evidence that the component of illiquidity uncorrelated with volatility forecasts stock market returns. The third chapter provides new evidence on the stock return forecasting performance of alternative corporate payout yields. We find that the net payout yield forecasts stock returns and generally outperforms the commonly used dividend yield. Additionally, we show that the choice of cash flow used to construct the payout yield is economically significant. An agent relying on the incorrect payout measure as a forecasting instrument is willing to pay an economically significant amount to switch to the optimal policy.