Expectations and investment

BIS Working Papers No 562
May 2016

Using micro data from the Duke University quarterly survey of Chief Financial Officers, we show that corporate investment plans as well as actual investment are well explained by CFOs' expectations of earnings growth. The information in expectations data is not subsumed by traditional variables, such as Tobin's Q or discount rates. We also show that errors in CFO expectations of earnings growth are predictable from past earnings and other data, pointing to the extrapolative structure of expectations and suggesting that expectations may not be rational. This evidence, like earlier findings in finance, points to the usefulness of data on actual expectations for understanding economic behaviour.

JEL classification: E03, E22, E32, G31

Keywords: Expectations, corporate investment, behavioral macroeconomics