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The Spirit of Capitalism and Stock-Market Prices

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  • Gurdip S. Bakshi

    (Department of Economics and Finance, University of New Orleans
    University of Maryland)

  • Zhiwu Chen

    (Fisher College of Business, Ohio State University)

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    Abstract

    In existing theory, wealth is no more valuable than its implied consumption rewards. In reality investors acquire wealth not just for its implied consumption, but for the resulting social status. Max M. Weber refers to this desire for wealth as the spirit of capitalism. We examine, both analytically and empirically, implications of Weber's hypothesis for consumption, savings, and stock prices. When investors care about relative social status, propensity to consume and risktaking behavior wvildl epend on social standards, and stock prices will be volatile. The spirit of capitalism seems to be a driving force behind stock-market volatility and economic growth.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics in its series CEMA Working Papers with number 511.

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    Length: 26 pages
    Date of creation: 1996
    Date of revision:
    Publication status: Published in The American Economic Review, Vol. 86, No. 1 (Mar., 1996), pp. 133-157
    Handle: RePEc:cuf:wpaper:511

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    Web page: http://cema.cufe.edu.cn/
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    1. Lars Peter Hansen & Ravi Jagannathan, 1990. "Implications of Security Market Data for Models of Dynamic Economies," NBER Technical Working Papers 0089, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Ferson, Wayne E. & Constantinides, George M., 1991. "Habit persistence and durability in aggregate consumption: Empirical tests," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 199-240, October.
    3. Harry Markowitz, 1952. "The Utility of Wealth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60, pages 151.
    4. Hall, Robert E, 1978. "Stochastic Implications of the Life Cycle-Permanent Income Hypothesis: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(6), pages 971-87, December.
    5. Lars Peter Hansen & John Heaton & Erzo Luttmer, 1993. "Econometric Evaluation of Asset Pricing Models," NBER Technical Working Papers 0145, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Robson, Arthur J, 1992. "Status, the Distribution of Wealth, Private and Social Attitudes to Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(4), pages 837-57, July.
    7. Heng-fu Zou, 1993. "The Capitalist Spirit and a Resolution of the Savings Puzzle," CEMA Working Papers 478, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
    8. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1985. "The equity premium: A puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 145-161, March.
    9. Constantinides, George M, 1990. "Habit Formation: A Resolution of the Equity Premium Puzzle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(3), pages 519-43, June.
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