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Why Does the Stock Market Fluctuate?

  • Robert B. Barsky
  • J. Bradford De Long

Large long-run swings in the United States stock market over the past century correspond to swings in estimates of fundamental values calculated by using a long moving average of past dividend growth to forecast future growth rates. Such a procedure would have been reasonable if investors were uncertain of the structure of the economy. and had to make forecasts of unknown and possibly-changing long-run dividend growth rates. The parameters of the stochastic process followed by dividends over the twentieth century cannot be precisely estimated even today at the century's end. Investors in the past had even less information about the dividend process. In such a context, it is difficult to see how investors can be faulted for implicitly forecasting future dividends by extrapolating past dividend growth.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3995.

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Date of creation: Feb 1992
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Publication status: published as Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 108, no. 2 (1993): 291-311.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3995
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  1. Mankiw, N.G. & Romer, D. & Shapiro, M.D., 1989. "Stock Market Forecastability And Volatility: A Statistical Appraisal," Papers 89-21, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
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  10. James M. Poterba & Lawrence H. Summers, 1987. "Mean Reversion in Stock Prices: Evidence and Implications," NBER Working Papers 2343, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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