Business Activity and the Boston Stock Market, 1835-1869
This paper examines the performance of the Boston stock market, the nation's premier market for industrials, between 1835 and 1869, developing new indexes of price performance, dividend yields and total holding period returns for bank stocks and industrial equities using annual data from Martin (1871). Using these new series and a set of VAR models we conclude that disturbances in the banking sector, as manifested by declines in total stockholder returns, led to increases in short-term lending rates which in turn led to declines in the price performance of traded manufacturing firms. There is no evidence of feedback from manufacturing returns to bank stock prices via lending rates. The findings are consistent with a key role for banks in nineteenth century business fluctuations.
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