Does the Price of Crude Oil Help Predict the Conditional Distribution of Aggregate Equity Return?
Contrary to point predictions that only convey information about the central tendency of the target variable, or the best prediction, density predictions take into account the whole shape of the conditional distribution, which means that they provide a characterization of prediction uncertainty.
They can also be used to assess out-of-sample predictive power when specific regions of the conditional distribution are emphasized, such as the center or the left tail. We carry out an out-of-sample density prediction study for monthly returns on the Standard & Poor’s 500 index from 1859m9 through 2017m12 with a stochastic volatility benchmark and alternatives to it that include the West Texas Intermediate price of crude oil.
Results suggest that models employing certain nonlinear transformations of the price of crude oil help deliver statistically significant density prediction improvements relative to the benchmark. The biggest payoff occurs when predicting the left tail of the conditional distribution. They also generate the earliest signal of a market downturn around the 2008 financial crisis.