IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Why was Stock Market Volatility so High During the Great Depression? Evidence from 10 Countries During the Interwar Period

  • Voth, Hans-Joachim

The extreme levels of stock price volatility found during the Great Depression have often been attributed to political uncertainty. This Paper performs an explicit test of the Merton/Schwert hypothesis that doubts about the survival of the capitalist system were partly responsible. It does so by using a panel data set on political unrest, demonstrations and other indicators of instability in a set of 10 developed countries during the interwar period. Fear of worker militancy and a possible revolution can explain a substantial part of the increase in stock market volatility during the Great Depression.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 3254.

in new window

Date of creation: Mar 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3254
Contact details of provider: Postal: Centre for Economic Policy Research, 77 Bastwick Street, London EC1V 3PZ.
Phone: 44 - 20 - 7183 8801
Fax: 44 - 20 - 7183 8820

Order Information: Email:

References listed on IDEAS
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.:

as in new window
  1. Alesina, Alberto & Perotti, Roberto, 1996. "Income distribution, political instability, and investment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 1203-1228, June.
  2. Xiaoqiang Hu & Thomas Willett, 2000. "The variability of inflation and real stock returns," Applied Financial Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(6), pages 655-665.
  3. Hamilton, James D, 1986. "On Testing for Self-fulfilling Speculative Price Bubbles," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 27(3), pages 545-52, October.
  4. Philippe Jorion & William N. Goetzmann, 1999. "Global Stock Markets in the Twentieth Century," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(3), pages 953-980, 06.
  5. Daron Acemoglu & James Robinson, 1999. "A Theory of Political Transitions," Working papers 99-26, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  6. Bekaert, Geert & Harvey, Campbell R., 1997. "Emerging equity market volatility," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 29-77, January.
  7. 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.
  8. Grossman, Herschel I, 1999. "Kleptocracy and Revolutions," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(2), pages 267-83, April.
  9. John Y. Campbell, 2001. "Have Individual Stocks Become More Volatile? An Empirical Exploration of Idiosyncratic Risk," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(1), pages 1-43, 02.
  10. Officer, R R, 1973. "The Variability of the Market Factor of the New York Stock Exchange," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(3), pages 434-53, July.
  11. Borchardt,Knut, 1991. "Perspectives on Modern German Economic History and Policy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521368582.
  12. Randall Morck & Bernard Yeung & Wayne Wu, 1999. "The Information Content of Stock Markets: Why do Emerging Markets have Synchronous Stock Price Movements?," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 44, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  13. G. William Schwert, 1989. "Business Cycles, Financial Crises, and Stock Volatility," NBER Working Papers 2957, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. G. William Schwert, 1990. "Stock Returns and Real Activity: A Century of Evidence," NBER Working Papers 3296, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Jianping Mei, 1999. "Political Risk, Financial Crisis, and Market Volatility," New York University, Leonard N. Stern School Finance Department Working Paper Seires 99-049, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business-.
  16. Kleidon, Allan W, 1986. "Variance Bounds Tests and Stock Price Valuation Models," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 953-1001, October.
  17. Borchardt,Knut, 1991. "Perspectives on Modern German Economic History and Policy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521363105.
  18. Feinstein, Charles H. & Temin, Peter & Toniolo, Gianni, 1997. "The European Economy Between the Wars," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198774815, July.
  19. David M. Cutler & James M. Poterba & Lawrence H. Summers, 1988. "What Moves Stock Prices?," NBER Working Papers 2538, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Perotti, Roberto & Alesina, Alberto, 1996. "Income Distribution, Political Instability, and Investment," Scholarly Articles 4553018, Harvard University Department of Economics.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3254. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

The email address of this maintainer does not seem to be valid anymore. Please ask to update the entry or send us the correct address

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.