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Rational bubbles in stock prices?

  • Behzad T. Diba
  • Herschel I. Grossman

This paper reports empirical tests for the existence of rational bubbles in stock prices. The analysis focuses on a familiar model that defines market fundamentals to be the expected present value of dividends, discounted at a constantrate, and defines a rational bubble to be a self-confirming divergence of stock prices from market fundamentals in response to extraneous variables. The tests are based on the theoretical result that, if rational bubbles exist, time series obtained by differencing real stock prices do not have stationary means. Analysis of the data in both the time domain and the frequency domain suggests that the time series of aggregate real stock prices is nonstationary in levels but stationary in first differences. Applications of the time domain tests to simulated nonstationary time series that would be implied by rational bubbles indicates that the tests have power to detect relevant nonstationarity when it is present. Furthermore, application of the time-domain and frequency-domain tests to the time series of aggregate real dividends also indicates nonstationarity in levels but stationarity in first differences -- suggesting that market fundamentals can account for the stationarity properties of real stock prices. These findings imply that rational bubbles do not exist in stock prices. Accordingly,any evidence that stock price fluctuations do not accord with market fundamentals (asspecified above) is attributable to misspecification of market fundamentals.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in its series Working Papers with number 87-20.

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Date of creation: 1987
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:87-20
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  1. Fama, Eugene F. & Schwert, G. William, 1977. "Asset returns and inflation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 115-146, November.
  2. Burmeister, Edwin & Wall, Kent D., 1982. "Kalman filtering estimation of unobserved rational expectations with an application to the German hyperinflation," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 255-284, November.
  3. Flood, Robert P & Garber, Peter M, 1980. "Market Fundamentals versus Price-Level Bubbles: The First Tests," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(4), pages 745-70, August.
  4. John Y. Campbell, 1985. "Stock Returns and the Term Structure," NBER Working Papers 1626, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Kenneth D. West, 1986. "A Specification Test for Speculative Bubbles," NBER Working Papers 2067, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Behzad T. Diba & Herschel I. Grossman, 1985. "The Impossibility of Rational Bubbles," NBER Working Papers 1615, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Obstfeld, Maurice & Rogoff, Kenneth, 1983. "Speculative Hyperinflations in Maximizing Models: Can We Rule Them Out?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(4), pages 675-87, August.
  8. Tirole, Jean, 1985. "Asset Bubbles and Overlapping Generations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(6), pages 1499-1528, November.
  9. Robert P. Flood & Peter M. Garber & Louis O. Scott, 1982. "Two Notes on Indeterminacy Problems," NBER Working Papers 0841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Flavin, Marjorie A, 1983. "Excess Volatility in the Financial Markets: A Reassessment of the Empirical Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(6), pages 929-56, December.
  11. 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.
  12. LeRoy, Stephen F & Porter, Richard D, 1981. "The Present-Value Relation: Tests Based on Implied Variance Bounds," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(3), pages 555-74, May.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Weil, Philippe, 1987. "Confidence and the Real Value of Money in an Overlapping Generations Economy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(1), pages 1-22, February.
  18. Tirole, Jean, 1982. "On the Possibility of Speculation under Rational Expectations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1163-81, September.
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