The "Shiller P/E regression" refers to the regression of real stock market returns over the next 20 years on the Shiller P/E. When I did this OLS regression myself (based on the data from Prof. Shiller), I got an R-squared of c. 67% and a p value for the regression of essentially zero (corresponding F stat of over 1600).

However, are the aforementioned OLS stats (R-squared, p value) the right ones to think about the goodness of fit and the significance of the regression? I am worried about the issue of overlapping time periods in the sample; i.e. the first item in the sample contains annualized real returns from Jan 1928 to Jan 1948, then the second item contains annualized real returns from Feb 1928 to Feb 1948 - thus the two items in the sample overlap for a whole 19 years and 11 months. Doesn't this somehow lower the "information content" in my sample compared to a sample that were to only contain non-overlapping time periods?

Note that this is an issue mentioned by Prof. Shiller himself in his book Irrational Exuberance (I have the 2nd edition from 2005 in front of me, p. 187):

The relation between price-earnings ratios and subsequent returns appears to be moderately strong, though there are questions about its statistical significance, since there are fewer than twelve nonoverlapping ten-year intervals in the 155 years' worth of data.

In the corresponding footnote, he further writes (p. 261 in my book):

However, the actual academic literature has still not resolved the question of statistical significance. There are unresolved statistical complexities, notably those due to the problem of (near) unit roots in the ratios and the dependency of both independent and dependent variables on price. There are other statistical issues too: a tendency toward rare big outlier observations, issues of the relevance of asymptotic distribution theory in small samples, questions about regime change, and measurement issues for the underlying data, as well as difficulty interpreting complex statistical evidence that has been selectively presented by a researcher who may have a preconceived bias.

He then presents a series of academic papers that address some of these issues and that arrive at differing conclusions. However, most of the papers cited in my edition (2005) are by now a bit dated and hence I am wondering whether a consensus has by now evolved in the academic literature.

(I am aware of this question that deals with overlapping time periods but I was wondering whether any progress has been made specifically on the topic of the "Shiller P/E regression".)

  • $\begingroup$ What about the effect of "the dependency of both independent and dependent variables on price"? Did you end up finding the answer to your question with regards to consensus? $\endgroup$
    – rinspy
    Nov 2, 2017 at 9:33

1 Answer 1


Overlapping observations leads to correlation of error terms

Let $r_{t \rightarrow t+k}$ be the log return from time $t$ to $t+k$. Imagine you're running a regression forecasting $k$ year returns using yearly data:

$$ r_{t \rightarrow t + k} = a + b x_t + \epsilon_{t+k}$$ Your intuition is correct that there's a problem with conventional standard errors.

  • For reference, non-overlapping returns $r_{t \rightarrow t+1}$ generally can be assumed to have zero autocorrelation and there's no issue.

  • But with overlapping $k$ period returns, the error terms $\epsilon_{t}, \ldots, \epsilon_{t+k-1}$ will be autocorrelated. (Two adjacent $k$ period returns will have $k-1$ overlapping periods.)

Hansen Hodrick (1980) standard errors

A sensible starting point is to compute Hansen Hodrick (1980) standard errors with $k-1$ overlapping periods. Some MATLAB code below:

b  = X \ y;           %solve b = (x'x)^-1 (x' y)
resid = y - X * b;    
Sxx = (X'*X/n);    
residrep = resid * ones(1,cols2);
V = (X .* residrep)' * (X .* residrep) / n;    
for i=1:k-1,
    V_lag = (X(1:end-i,:) .* residrep(1:end-i,:))' * (X(i+1:end,:) .* residrep(i+1:end,:)) / n;
    V = V + V_lag + V_lag';
Sxx_inv = inv(Sxx);
bcov = Sxx_inv * V * Sxx_inv / n;

John Cochrane's book Asset Pricing also discusses how to do this on p. 209.

Other approaches?

Glancing through the literature, there's some debate as to the small sample properties of the Hansen Hodrick (1980) correction and several others have been proposed. The answer you linked to on Cross-Validated provides some references on the subject.


Ang, Andrew and Geert Bekaert, 2007, "Stock Return Predictability: Is It There?" Review of Financial Studies

Cochrane, John, 2005, Asset Pricing (revised) p. 209

Cochrane, John, 2011, "Discount Rates," Journal of Finance

Hansen, Lars P. and Robert J. Hodrick, 1980, "Forward Exchange Rates as Optimal Predictors of Future Spot Rates: An Econometric Analysis," Journal of Political Economy

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! Do you know if Hansen & Hodrick (1980) standard errors would be preferable to Newey & West (1987) standard errors in a situation with overlapping data? Shouldn't the latter also cover the correlation between error terms dealt with by the former? (I also decided to ask this question in a broader context here, in case you're interested.) $\endgroup$
    – Candamir
    Nov 6, 2017 at 23:40
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks again for the very useful answer. Just one clarification: Above your code you mention to "compute HH (1980) standard errors with $k−1$ lags". However, am I correct in understanding that your reference to "lags" in that phrase is to the lags variable in the code, NOT to the lags as equivalent to the variable $k$ in HH (1980, p. 834-835)? E.g. the lag as used in HH can be 1, in which case there is no actual overlap and in which case the formula for the 'meat' component of the covariance matrix would iterate through the sum operators for $\hat R_u(j)$ and $\hat R_x(j)$ once. (cont'd) $\endgroup$
    – Candamir
    Nov 7, 2017 at 19:21
  • $\begingroup$ (cont'd) Your code computes that first iteration through the sum operators in the line V = (X .* residrep)' * (X .* residrep) / n;. Thus I would suggest to replace "compute HH (1980) standard errors with $k−1$ lags" with "compute HH (1980) standard errors with $k$ lags" and to amend the loop constructor to for i=1:(lags-1),. Note that I am not saying that your code is incorrect, just that it would be easier to understand in context of the post if the lags variable and the "econometric language lags" were the same. $\endgroup$
    – Candamir
    Nov 7, 2017 at 19:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Candamir Thanks for the comments! You're right. That would be more standard notation, and I've changed it. $\endgroup$ Nov 8, 2017 at 16:21
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Speaking of alternatives to HH (1980), Hodrick himself developed an alternative in 1992 www0.gsb.columbia.edu/faculty/rhodrick/dividendyields.pdf Eqn (6), also described here alexchinco.com/… $\endgroup$
    – nbbo2
    Nov 8, 2017 at 17:11

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