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The 1929 stock market: Irving Fisher was right

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  • Ellen R. McGrattan
  • Edward C. Prescott

Abstract

Many stock market analysts think that in 1929, at the time of the crash, stocks were overvalued. Irving Fisher argued just before the crash that fundamentals were strong and the stock market was undervalued. In this paper, we use growth theory to estimate the fundamental value of corporate equity and compare it to actual stock valuations. Our estimate is based on values of productive corporate capital, both tangible and intangible, and tax rates on corporate income and distributions. The evidence strongly suggests that Fisher was right. Even at the 1929 peak, stocks were undervalued relative to the prediction of theory.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its series Staff Report with number 294.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Publication status: Published in International Economic Review (Vol. 45, No. 4, November 2004, pp. 991-1009)
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmsr:294

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Keywords: Depressions ; Stock market;

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  1. Flood, Robert P & Hodrick, Robert J, 1990. "On Testing for Speculative Bubbles," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 85-101, Spring.
  2. Ellen R. McGrattan & Edward C. Prescott, 2001. "Is the Stock Market Overvalued?," NBER Working Papers 8077, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. John Y. Campbell & Robert J. Shiller, 2001. "Valuation Ratios and the Long-run Stock Market Outlook: An Update," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1295, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  4. Attanasio, Orazio P & Weber, Guglielmo, 1995. "Is Consumption Growth Consistent with Intertemporal Optimization? Evidence from the Consumer Expenditure Survey," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1121-57, December.
  5. Boyan Jovanovic & Peter L. Rousseau, 2001. "Liquidity Effects in the Bond Market," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0117, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  6. Hamilton, James D. & Whiteman, Charles H., 1985. "The observable implications of self-fulfilling expectations," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 353-373, November.
  7. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1990. "Supply-Side Economics: An Analytical Review," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(2), pages 293-316, April.
  8. McGrattan, Ellen R., 1994. "The macroeconomic effects of distortionary taxation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 573-601, June.
  9. Hurd, Michael D, 1989. "Mortality Risk and Bequests," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(4), pages 779-813, July.
  10. Ray C. Fair & Matthew D. Shapiro & Kathryn M. Dominguez, 1986. "Forecasting the Depression: Harvard Versus Yale," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 808, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  11. Browning, Martin & Hansen, Lars Peter & Heckman, James J., 1999. "Micro data and general equilibrium models," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 8, pages 543-633 Elsevier.
  12. Rosenzweig, Mark R. & Wolpin, Kenneth I., 1989. "Credit Market Constraints, Consumption Smoothing and the Accumulation of Durable Production Assets in Low-Income Countries: Investments in Bullocks in India," Bulletins 7487, University of Minnesota, Economic Development Center.
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Cited by:
  1. Monique Ebell & Albrecht Ritschl, 2008. "Real Origins of the Great Depression: Monopoly Power, Unions and the American Business Cycle in the 1920s," CEP Discussion Papers dp0876, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Pierre L. Siklos, 2007. "The FedÕs Reaction to the Stock Market During the Great Depression: Fact or Artefact?," Working Paper Series 33-07, The Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis, revised Jul 2007.
  3. Razzak, Weshah, 2013. "An Empirical Study of Sectoral-Level Capital Investments in New Zealand," MPRA Paper 52461, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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