Why Does Bad News Increase Volatility And Decrease Leverage?
The literature on leverage until now shows how an increase in volatility reduces leverage. However, in order to explain pro-cyclical leverage it assumes that bad news increases volatility. This paper suggests a reason why bad news is more often than not associated with higher future volatility. The authors show that, in a model with endogenous leverage and heterogeneous beliefs, agents have the incentive to invest mostly in technologies that become volatile in bad times. Together with the old literature this explains pro-cyclical leverage. The result also gives rationale to the pattern of volatility smiles observed in the stock options since 1987.