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The Stabilization of the U.S. Economy: Evidence from the Stock Market

Until recently, economists widely believed that economic activity had become less variable in the United States following the end of World War II. Challenging this belief, new research suggests that key historical time series are spuriously volatile, a finding that is highly controversial. Data from the stock market may provide a vehicle for resolving the controversy. Economic theory relates stock prices to real activity; empirical tests also show a strong link between stock prices and activity. Financial data are accurately measured over long spans of time and hence are free of most of the measurement problems in other time series. Measures of stock prices show no stabilization in the post-World War II period relative to the pre-World War I or pre-Depression periods. These stock market data thus support the hypothesis that real activity has not been stabilized.

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File URL: http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/P/cd/d08b/d0876.pdf
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Paper provided by Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University in its series Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers with number 876.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Jul 1988
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in American Economic Review (December 1988), 78(5): 1067-1079
Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:876
Note: CFP 724.
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Web page: http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/

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  1. Poterba, James M & Summers, Lawrence H, 1986. "The Persistence of Volatility and Stock Market Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1142-51, December.
  2. Shiller, Robert J, 1981. "Do Stock Prices Move Too Much to be Justified by Subsequent Changes in Dividends?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 421-36, June.
  3. Robert B. Barsky, 1986. "The Fisher Hypothesis and the Forecastability and Persistence of Inflation," NBER Working Papers 1927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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.
  5. Marsh, Terry A. & Merton, Robert C., 1984. "Dividend variability and variance bounds tests for the rationality of stock market prices," Working papers 1584-84., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  6. Grossman, Sanford J & Shiller, Robert J, 1981. "The Determinants of the Variability of Stock Market Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(2), pages 222-27, May.
  7. Fischer, Stanley & Merton, Robert C., 1984. "Macroeconomics and finance: The role of the stock market," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 57-108, January.
  8. Mankiw, N Gregory & Romer, David & Shapiro, Matthew D, 1985. " An Unbiased Reexamination of Stock Market Volatility," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 40(3), pages 677-87, July.
  9. Andrews, Donald W K & Fair, Ray C, 1988. "Inference in Nonlinear Econometric Models with Structural Change," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(4), pages 615-39, October.
  10. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1978. "Asset Prices in an Exchange Economy," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(6), pages 1429-45, November.
  11. John Y. Campbell & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1986. "Are Output Fluctuations Transitory?," NBER Working Papers 1916, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Romer, Christina, 1986. "Spurious Volatility in Historical Unemployment Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(1), pages 1-37, February.
  13. Nelson, Charles R. & Plosser, Charles I., 1982. "Trends and random walks in macroeconmic time series : Some evidence and implications," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 139-162.
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