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Production Theory and the Stock Market

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  • Hayne E. Leland

Abstract

Traditional economic models separate firms' production decisions from equilibrium in stock markets. In this paper, we develop an integrated model of production in the presence of capital asset market equilibrium. Our theory indicates that, in a stochastic environment, production and financial variables are inextricably interrelated. Following the financial equilibrium models of Sharpe [13], Lintner [10], and Mossin [11], we assume that profits and therefore portfolio returns are random. But stockholders can alter their distributions of returns by altering firms' production decisions as well as by altering their portfolios. The key to the analysis is a "unanimity theorem," which shows that in many environments stockholders will agree on optimal output decisions, despite their different expectations and attitudes towards risk. We develop equilibrium conditions which must be satisfied by production decisions. Profit maximization is indeed optimal for a firm whose profits are riskless. But risky firms' outputs depend on financial as well as cost variables, and the equilibrium conditions lead to a theory of production under uncertainty which replaces the now-vacuous notion of profit maximization. We further show that the output decisions will be Pareto optimal for stockholders, and that these decisions maximize market value only in a "purely competitive" world. Our results provide a synthesis of the conflicting conclusions of Diamond [4], Stiglitz [14], and Wilson [17], [18] on the optimality of stock prices.

Suggested Citation

  • Hayne E. Leland, 1973. "Production Theory and the Stock Market," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 361, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  • Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:361
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Baron, David P, 1970. "Price Uncertainty, Utility, and Industry Equilibrium in Pure Competition," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 11(3), pages 463-480, October.
    2. Steinar Ekern & Robert Wilson, 1974. "On the Theory of the Firm in an Economy with Incomplete Markets," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 5(1), pages 171-180, Spring.
    3. Sandmo, Agnar, 1971. "On the Theory of the Competitive Firm under Price Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(1), pages 65-73, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bejan, Camelia, 2008. "Production and financial decisions under uncertainty," MPRA Paper 11033, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Miguel Antón & Florian Ederer & Mireia Giné & Martin Schmalz, 2016. "Common Ownership, Competition, and Top Management Incentives," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 2046R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Oct 2017.
    3. Konrad, Kai A., 1991. "Capital formation, risk taking, and taxation," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 252-267.
    4. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/10282 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Konrad, Kai A., 1991. "The Domar-Musgrave phenomenon and adverse selection," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 41-53, April.
    6. Gordon Roger H., 2003. "Do Publicly Traded Corporations Act in the Public Interest?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-20, June.
    7. Hervé Crès & Mich Tvede, 2001. "Proxy fights in incomplete markets: when majority voting and sidepayments are equivalent," Working Papers hal-01065004, HAL.
    8. Roger H. Gordon, 1981. "Taxation of Corporate Capital Income: Tax Revenues vs. Tax Distortions," NBER Working Papers 0687, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Ramser, Hans Jürgen, 1975. "Neuere Ansätze in der Theorie der Firma und ihre wettbewerbspolitischen Implikationen," Discussion Papers, Series I 70, University of Konstanz, Department of Economics.
    10. Merton, Robert C., 1993. "On the microeconomic theory of investment under uncertainty," Handbook of Mathematical Economics,in: K. J. Arrow & M.D. Intriligator (ed.), Handbook of Mathematical Economics, edition 4, volume 2, chapter 13, pages 601-669 Elsevier.
    11. Hervé Crès & Mich Tvede, 2001. "Proxy fights in incomplete markets: when majority voting and sidepayments are equivalent," Sciences Po publications 726/2001, Sciences Po.
    12. Bosshardt, Donald I., 2003. "Capital structure, investment unanimity, and public goods: the case for social responsibility," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 239-260.
    13. Lemma W. Senbet & Robert A. Taggart, Jr., 1981. "Capital Structure Equilibrium under Incomplete Market Conditions," NBER Working Papers 0747, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. David P. Baron, 1977. "On the Relationship Between Complete and Incomplete Financial Markets Models," Discussion Papers 241, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    15. David M. Kreps, 1982. "Multiperiod Securities and the Efficient Allocation of Risk: A Comment on the Black-Scholes Option Pricing Model," NBER Chapters,in: The Economics of Information and Uncertainty, pages 203-232 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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