On the power and weakness of rational expectations: Logical fallacies, periodic bubbles and business cycles
AbstractA popular interpretation of the Rational Expectations/Efficient Markets hypothesis states that, if the hypothesis holds, then market valuations must follow a random walk. This postulate has frequently been criticized on the basis of empirical evidence. Yet the assertion itself incurs what we could call 'fallacy of probability diffusion symmetry': although market efficiency does indeed imply that the mean (i.e. expected) path must be a random walk, if the probability diffusion process is asymmetric then the observed path will most closely resemble not the mean but the median, which does not necessarily follow a random walk. To illustrate the implications, this paper develops an efficient markets model where the median path of Tobin's q ratio displays regular cycles of bubbles and crashes reflecting an agency problem between investors and producers. The model is tested against US market data, with results suggesting that such a regular cycle does indeed exist and is statistically significant. The aggregate production function in Gracia (Uncertainty and Capacity Constraints: Reconsidering the Aggregate Production Function, 2011) is then put forward to show how financial fluctuations can drive the business cycle by periodically impacting aggregate productivity and, as a consequence, GDP growth. --
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Kiel Institute for the World Economy in its series Economics Discussion Papers with number 2012-27.
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Rational Expectations; efficient markets; financial bubbles; stock markets; booms and crashes; Tobin's q; business cycles; economic rents;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Capital; Investment; Capacity
- E23 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Production
- E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
- G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
- G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2012-07-01 (All new papers)
- NEP-FDG-2012-07-01 (Financial Development & Growth)
- NEP-MAC-2012-07-01 (Macroeconomics)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Bezemer, Dirk, 2009. "No one saw this coming. Understanding financial crisis through accounting models," Research Report 09002, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
- Young, Alwyn, 1994. "Lessons from the East Asian NICS: A contrarian view," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(3-4), pages 964-973, April.
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