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Stock prices, expected returns, and inflation

  • Steven A. Sharpe

This paper examines the effect of expected inflation on stock prices and expected long-run returns. An ex ante estimates measure of expected long-run returns is derived by incorporating estimates of expected of future corporate cash flows into a variant of the Campbell-Shiller dividend-price ratio model. In this model, the log earnings-price ratio is expressed as a linear function of expected future returns, expected earnings growth rates, and the log of the current dividend-payout ratio. Expectations of earnings growth are inferred from equity analysts' earnings forecasts, while inflation expectations are drawn from surveys of professional forecasters. I find that the negative relation between equity valuations and expected inflation results from two effects: higher expected inflation coincides with (I) lower expected real earnings growth and (ii) higher required real returns. The earnings channel is not merely a reflection of inflation's recession-signalling properties; rather, much of the negative valuation effect results from a negative relation between expected inflation and expected longer-term real earnings growth. The effect of expected inflation on required (long-run) real stock returns is also substantial. A one percentage point increase in expected inflation raises required real stock returns about one percentage point, which on average implies a 20 percent decline in the level of stock prices. The inflation-related component of expected real stock returns is closely related to the component explained by real long-term bond yields.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 1999-02.

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Date of creation: 1999
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:1999-02
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  1. John Y. Campbell & Robert J. Shiller, 1988. "Stock Prices, Earnings and Expected Dividends," NBER Working Papers 2511, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Feldstein, Martin, 1980. "Inflation and the Stock Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 839-47, December.
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  9. Martin Feldstein & Lawrence Summers, 1983. "Inflation and the Taxation of Capital Income in the Corporate Sector," NBER Chapters, in: Inflation, Tax Rules, and Capital Formation, pages 116-152 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Willem Thorbecke, 1998. "On Stock Market Returns and Monetary Policy," Macroeconomics 9812009, EconWPA.
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  19. Martha S. Scanlon, . "Postwar trends in corporate rates of return," Monograph, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), number 1981pticro.
  20. Bodie, Zvi, 1976. "Common Stocks as a Hedge against Inflation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 31(2), pages 459-70, May.
  21. Martin Feldstein, 1979. "Inflation, Tax Rules, and the Stock Market," NBER Working Papers 0403, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. William R. Nelson, 1999. "The aggregate change in shares and the level of stock prices," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1999-08, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  23. Bernard, Victor L., 1986. "Unanticipated inflation and the value of the firm," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 285-321, March.
  24. Geske, Robert & Roll, Richard, 1983. " The Fiscal and Monetary Linkage between Stock Returns and Inflation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 38(1), pages 1-33, March.
  25. Dechow, Patricia M. & Sloan, Richard G., 1997. "Returns to contrarian investment strategies: Tests of naive expectations hypotheses," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 3-27, January.
  26. Lawrence H. Summers, 1982. "The Nonadjustment of Nominal Interest Rates: A Study of the Fisher Effect," NBER Working Papers 0836, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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