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The Stock Market Crash of 1929: Irving Fisher Was Right!

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  • Ellen R. McGrattan
  • Edward C. Prescott

Abstract

In the fall of 1929, the market value of all shares listed on the New York Stock Exchange fell by 30 percent. Many analysts then and now take the view that stocks were then overvalued and the stock market was in need of a correction. Irving Fisher argued that the fundamentals were strong and the stock market was undervalued. In this paper, we estimate the fundamental value of corporate equity in 1929 using data on stocks of productive capital and tax rates as in McGrattan and Prescott (2000, 2001) and compare it to actual stock valuations. We find that the stock market in 1929 did not crash because the market was overvalued. In fact, the evidence strongly suggests that stocks were undervalued, even at their 1929 peak.

Suggested Citation

  • Ellen R. McGrattan & Edward C. Prescott, 2001. "The Stock Market Crash of 1929: Irving Fisher Was Right!," NBER Working Papers 8622, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8622
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Boyan Jovanovic & Peter L. Rousseau, 2001. "Liquidity effects in the bond market," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q IV, pages 17-35.
    2. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1990. "Supply-Side Economics: An Analytical Review," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(2), pages 293-316, April.
    3. Flood, Robert P & Hodrick, Robert J, 1990. "On Testing for Speculative Bubbles," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 85-101, Spring.
    4. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Barry Eichengreen & Kris Mitchener, 2003. "The Great Depression as a credit boom gone wrong," BIS Working Papers 137, Bank for International Settlements.
    2. Riza Emekter & Benjamas Jirasakuldech & Peter Went, 2012. "Rational speculative bubbles and commodities markets: application of duration dependence test," Applied Financial Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(7), pages 581-596, April.
    3. Thomas F Helbling, 2005. "Housing price bubbles - a tale based on housing price booms and busts," BIS Papers chapters,in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Real estate indicators and financial stability, volume 21, pages 30-41 Bank for International Settlements.
    4. Claudio Borio & William English & Andrew Filardo, 2003. "A tale of two perspectives: old or new challenges for monetary policy?," BIS Papers chapters,in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Monetary policy in a changing environment, volume 19, pages 1-59 Bank for International Settlements.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates

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