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What happened to the U.S. stock market? accounting for the past 50 years

  • Michele Boldrin
  • Adrian Peralta-Alva

The extreme volatility of stock market values has been the subject of a large body of literature. Previous research focused on the short run because of a widespread belief that in the long run the market reverts to well-established fundamentals. The authors' research suggests this belief should be questioned. First, they show actual dividends cannot account for the secular trends of stock market values. They then consider a more comprehensive measure of capital income, which displays large secular fluctuations that roughly coincide with changes in stock market trends. Under perfect foresight, however, this measure fails to properly account for stock market movements. The authors thus abandon the perfect foresight assumption and instead assume that forecasts of future capital income are performed using a distributed lag equation and information available up to the forecasting period only. They find that standard asset-pricing theory can be reconciled with the secular trends in the stock market. This study, nevertheless, leaves open an important puzzle for asset-pricing theory: The market value of U.S. corporations was much lower than the replacement cost of corporate tangible assets from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s.

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Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its journal Review.

Volume (Year): (2009)
Issue (Month): Nov ()
Pages: 627-646

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlrv:y:2009:i:nov:p:627-646:n:v.91no.6
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  1. Robert B. Barsky & J. Bradford De Long, 1992. "Why Does the Stock Market Fluctuate?," NBER Working Papers 3995, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Bart Hobijn & Boyan Jovanovic, 2001. "The Information-Technology Revolution and the Stock Market: Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1203-1220, December.
  3. Easterbrook, Frank H, 1984. "Two Agency-Cost Explanations of Dividends," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(4), pages 650-59, September.
  4. Campbell, John Y., 2003. "Consumption-based asset pricing," Handbook of the Economics of Finance, in: G.M. Constantinides & M. Harris & R. M. Stulz (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Finance, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 13, pages 803-887 Elsevier.
  5. Michele Boldrin & Lawrence J. Christiano & Jonas D.M. Fisher, 1999. "Habit persistence, asset returns and the business cycles," Working Paper Series WP-99-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
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