Global crises and equity market contagion

Using the 2007-09 financial crisis as a laboratory, we analyze the transmission of crises to country-industry equity portfolios in 55 countries. We use a factor model to predict crisis returns, defining unexplained increases in factor loadings and residual correlations as indicative of contagion. We find statistically significant evidence of contagion from US markets and from the global financial sector, but the effects are economically small. By contrast, there has been substantial contagion from domestic equity markets to individual domestic equity portfolios, with its severity inversely related to the quality of countries’ economic fundamentals and policies. This confirms the old “wake-up call” hypothesis, with markets and investors focusing substantially more on country-specific characteristics during the crisis.

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