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Tobin's Q, economic rents, and the optimal stock of capital

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  • Richard W. Kopcke
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    Abstract

    Within optimal investment programs, the accumulation of capital is a stable function of marginal q. Much of the interest in q, however, derives from its potential to reflect the demand for capital when the optimal program changes. If the marginal return on capital diminishes as capital increases, the correspondence between marginal q and the optimal stock of capital can shift whenever investors alter their assessments of prospective economic rents. At such times, marginal q even could rise as the optimal stock of capital falls. In general, robust investment functions express optimal investment in terms of those variables that determine marginal q, rather than marginal q itself. However, under some restrictions (e.g. price-taking enterprises), marginal q may be sufficient to determine the optimal accumulation of capital even as the program changes. The conditions that make marginal q a sufficient statistic also make q a sufficient statistic.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its series Working Papers with number 95-4.

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    Date of creation: 1995
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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:95-4

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    Keywords: Capital;

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    1. Poterba, James M. & Summers, Lawrence H., 1983. "Dividend taxes, corporate investment, and `Q'," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 135-167, November.
    2. Lawrence H. Summers, 1981. "Taxation and Corporate Investment: A q-Theory Approach," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 12(1), pages 67-140.
    3. Andrew B. Abel & Janice C. Eberly, . "An Exact Solution for the Investment and Market Value of a Firm Facing Uncertainty, Adjustment Costs, and Irreversibility," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 12-93, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
    4. Lucas, Robert E, Jr & Prescott, Edward C, 1971. "Investment Under Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 39(5), pages 659-81, September.
    5. Greenwald, Bruce C. & Kohn, Meir & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1990. "Financial market imperfections and productivity growth," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 321-345, June.
    6. Andrew B. Abel, 1984. "A Stochastic Model of Investment, Marginal q and the Market Value of theFirm," NBER Working Papers 1484, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Larry H.P. Lang & Rene M. Stulz, 1993. "Tobin's Q, Corporate Diversification and Firm Performance," NBER Working Papers 4376, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Hayashi, Fumio, 1982. "Tobin's Marginal q and Average q: A Neoclassical Interpretation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 213-24, January.
    9. Steven M. Fazzari & R. Glenn Hubbard & BRUCE C. PETERSEN, 1988. "Financing Constraints and Corporate Investment," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 19(1), pages 141-206.
    10. Auerbach, Alan J, 1979. "Wealth Maximization and the Cost of Capital," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(3), pages 433-46, August.
    11. DeAngelo, Harry & Masulis, Ronald W., 1980. "Optimal capital structure under corporate and personal taxation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 3-29, March.
    12. McDonald, Robert & Siegel, Daniel, 1986. "The Value of Waiting to Invest," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(4), pages 707-27, November.
    13. Robert S. Chirinko, 1986. "Tobin's Q and Financial Policy," NBER Working Papers 2082, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Robert S. Pindyck, 1986. "Irreversible Investment, Capacity Choice, and the Value of the Firm," NBER Working Papers 1980, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Miller, Merton H, 1977. "Debt and Taxes," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 32(2), pages 261-75, May.
    16. James G. Witte & Jr., 1963. "The Microfoundations of the Social Investment Function," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 71, pages 441.
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