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Investment and Uncertainty: Precipitating the Great Depression in the United States

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  • DAVID GREASLEY
  • JAKOB B. MADSEN

Abstract

A severe collapse of fixed capital formation distinguished the onset of the Great Depression from other investment downturns between the world wars. Using a model estimated for the years 1890-2000, we show that the expected profitability of capital measured by Tobin's "q", and the uncertainty surrounding expected profits indicated by share price volatility, were the chief influences on investment levels, and that heightened share price volatility played the dominant role in the crucial investment collapse in 1930. Investment did not simply follow the downward course of income at the onset of the depression: rather, its slump helped to propel the wider collapse. Copyright (c) The London School of Economics and Political Science 2006.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by London School of Economics and Political Science in its journal Economica.

Volume (Year): 73 (2006)
Issue (Month): 291 (08)
Pages: 393-412

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Handle: RePEc:bla:econom:v:73:y:2006:i:291:p:393-412

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Cited by:
  1. Sarah J. Carrington & Jakob B. Madsen, 2009. "House Prices, Credit and Willingness to Lend," Development Research Unit Working Paper Series 23-09, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  2. Bontempi, Maria Elena & Golinelli, Roberto & Parigi, Giuseppe, 2010. "Why demand uncertainty curbs investment: Evidence from a panel of Italian manufacturing firms," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 218-238, March.
  3. Vivek Ghosal & Yang Ye, 2013. "Business Decision-Making under Uncertainty: Evidence from Employment and Number of Businesses," CESifo Working Paper Series 4312, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Michelle Alexopoulos & Jon Cohen, 2009. "Measuring Our Ignorance, One Book at a Time: New Indicators of Technological Change, 1909-1949," Working Papers tecipa-349, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  5. Kyle Jurado & Sydney C. Ludvigson & Serena Ng, 2013. "Measuring Uncertainty," NBER Working Papers 19456, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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