Global political uncertainty and asset prices

Jonathan Brogaard, Lili Dai, Phong Ngo and Bohui Zhang

Forthcoming, Review of Financial Studies

We show that global political uncertainty, measured by the U.S. election cycle, on average, leads to a fall in equity returns in 50 non-U.S. countries. At the same time, market volatilities rise, local currencies depreciate, and sovereign bond returns increase. The effect of global political uncertainty on equity prices increases with the level of uncertainty in U.S. election outcomes, and a country’s equity market exposure to foreign investors, but does not vary with the country’s international trade exposure. These findings suggest that global political uncertainty causes an increase in investors’ aggregate risk aversion, leading to a flight to safer assets.