The Cross-Section of Volatility and Expected Returns






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    • Ang is with Columbia University and NBER. Hodrick is with Columbia University and NBER. Yuhang Xing is at Rice University. Xiaoyan Zhang is at Cornell University. We thank Joe Chen, Mike Chernov, Miguel Ferreira, Jeff Fleming, Chris Lamoureux, Jun Liu, Laurie Hodrick, Paul Hribar, Jun Pan, Matt Rhodes-Kropf, Steve Ross, David Weinbaum, and Lu Zhang for helpful discussions. We also received valuable comments from seminar participants at an NBER Asset Pricing meeting, Campbell and Company, Columbia University, Cornell University, Hong Kong University, Rice University, UCLA, and the University of Rochester. We thank Tim Bollerslev, Joe Chen, Miguel Ferreira, Kenneth French, Anna Scherbina, and Tyler Shumway for kindly providing data. We especially thank an anonymous referee and Rob Stambaugh, the editor, for helpful suggestions that greatly improved the paper. Andrew Ang and Bob Hodrick both acknowledge support from the National Science Foundation.


We examine the pricing of aggregate volatility risk in the cross-section of stock returns. Consistent with theory, we find that stocks with high sensitivities to innovations in aggregate volatility have low average returns. Stocks with high idiosyncratic volatility relative to the Fama and French (1993, Journal of Financial Economics 25, 2349) model have abysmally low average returns. This phenomenon cannot be explained by exposure to aggregate volatility risk. Size, book-to-market, momentum, and liquidity effects cannot account for either the low average returns earned by stocks with high exposure to systematic volatility risk or for the low average returns of stocks with high idiosyncratic volatility.