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The New York Stock Market in the 1920s and 1930s: Did Stock Prices Move Together Too Much?

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  • Eugene N. White
  • Peter Rappoport

Abstract

In this paper, we re-examine the stock market of the 1920s and 1930s for evidence of a bubble, a 'fad' or 'herding' behavior by studying individual stock returns. One story often advanced for the boom of 1928 and 1929 is that it was driven by the entry into the market of largely uninformed investors, who followed the fortunes of and invested in 'favorite' stocks. The recent theoretical literature on how 'noise traders' perturb financial markets is consistent with this description. The result of this behavior would be a tendency for the favorite stocks' prices to move together more than would be predicted by their shared fundamentals. Our results suggest that there was excess comovement in returns even before the boom began, but comovement increased significantly during the boom and was a signal characteristic of the tumultuous market of the early 1930s. These results are thus consistent with the possibility that a fad or crowd psychology played a role in the rise of the market, its crash and subsequent volatility.

Suggested Citation

  • Eugene N. White & Peter Rappoport, 1994. "The New York Stock Market in the 1920s and 1930s: Did Stock Prices Move Together Too Much?," NBER Working Papers 4627, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4627
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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 929-956, December.
    2. Robert S. Pindyck & Julio J. Rotemberg, 1993. "The Comovement of Stock Prices," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(4), pages 1073-1104.
    3. N. Gregory Mankiw & David Romer & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1991. "Stock Market Forecastability and Volatility: A Statistical Appraisal," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(3), pages 455-477.
    4. Bulkley, George & Tonks, Ian, 1989. "Are U.K. Stock Prices Excessively Volatile? Trading Rules and Variance Bounds Tests," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(398), pages 1083-1098, December.
    5. 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.
    6. Marsh, Terry A & Merton, Robert C, 1986. "Dividend Variability and Variance Bounds Tests for the Rationality ofStock Market Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 483-498, June.
    7. 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.
    8. Kleidon, Allan W, 1986. "Variance Bounds Tests and Stock Price Valuation Models," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 953-1001, October.
    9. Hamilton, James D, 1986. "On Testing for Self-fulfilling Speculative Price Bubbles," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 27(3), pages 545-552, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Junsoo Lee & Jen-Chi Cheng & Chyongchiou Lin & Cliff Huang, 1998. "The market efficiency hypothesis on stock prices: international evidence in the 1920s," Applied Financial Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(1), pages 61-65.
    2. Thomas Russell, 1997. "The rationality hypothesis in economics: from Wall Street to Main Street," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(1), pages 83-100.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • N22 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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