Financial Markets and News about the Coronavirus

Harry Mamaysky, Associate Professor of Professional Practice, Columbia Business School

I examine how financial markets interact with news about the coronavirus pandemic of 2020. Coronavirus news in the financial press can be classified into nine topics, which track the progression of narratives about the pandemic. Topical sentiment is contemporaneously related to changes in the SP500, VIX, and high-yield corporate bond indexes, and in US Treasury yields. A large fraction of daily market price variation of these asset classes is explained by topical sentiment. The contemporaneous relationship between market prices and topical sentiment is stronger when the level of the VIX is higher. Markets Granger cause topical sentiment, and vice versa. Finally, financial markets do not covary contemporaneously with incidence of coronavirus cases, but do forecast future coronavirus cases. The overall picture is of hypersensitive, but largely rational, markets.