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The Bubble of 1929: Evidence from Closed-End Funds

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  • J. Bradford De Long
  • Andrei Shleifer

Abstract

Closed-end mutual funds provide one of the few cases in which economists can observe "fundamental" values directly, and compare them to market values: the fundamental value of a closed-end fund is simply the net asset value of its portfolio. We use the difference between prices and asset values of closed-end funds at the end of the 1920s as a measure of investment sentiment. In the late l920s closed-end funds sold at large premia: at the peak, they appear willing to pay 60 percent more for closed-end funds than the post-WWII norm. Such substantial overpricing of closed-end funds -- where fundamentals are known and observed -- suggests that other assets were selling at prices above fundamentals as well. The association between movements in the medium closed-end fund discount and movements in broad stock price indices leads us to conclude that the stocks making up the S & P composite were priced at least 30 percent above fundamentals in the summer of 1929.

Suggested Citation

  • J. Bradford De Long & Andrei Shleifer, 1990. "The Bubble of 1929: Evidence from Closed-End Funds," NBER Working Papers 3523, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3523
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    1. Barsky, Robert B. & Long, J. Bradford De, 1990. "Bull and Bear Markets in the Twentieth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 50(02), pages 265-281, June.
    2. De Long, J Bradford & Andrei Shleifer & Lawrence H. Summers & Robert J. Waldmann, 1990. "Noise Trader Risk in Financial Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(4), pages 703-738, August.
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    1. repec:hrv:faseco:30747157 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Georgakopoulos, Nicholas L., 1996. "Why should disclosure rules subsidize informed traders?," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 417-431, December.
    3. John Simon, 2003. "Three Australian Asset-price Bubbles," RBA Annual Conference Volume,in: Anthony Richards & Tim Robinson (ed.), Asset Prices and Monetary Policy Reserve Bank of Australia.

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