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Taxes, Regulations, and Asset Prices

  • Ellen R. McGrattan
  • Edward C. Prescott

U.S. stock prices have increased much faster than gross domestic product (GDP) in the postwar period. Between 1962 and 2000, corporate equity value relative to GDP nearly doubled. In this paper, we determine what standard growth theory says the equity value should be in 1962 and 2000, the two years for which our steady-state assumption is a reasonable one. We find that the actual valuations were close to the theoretical predictions in both years. The reason for the large run-up in equity value relative to GDP is that the average tax rate on dividends fell dramatically between 1962 and 2000. We also find that, given legal constraints that effectively prohibited the holding of stocks as reserves for pension plans, there is no equity premium puzzle in the postwar period. The average returns on debt and equity are as theory predicts.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8623.

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Date of creation: Dec 2001
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8623
Note: AP EFG
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  1. James M. Poterba & Lawrence H. Summers, 1984. "The Economic Effects of Dividend Taxation," Working papers 343, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. John H. Cochrane, 1988. "Production Based Asset Pricing," NBER Working Papers 2776, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Andrew B. Abel, 1990. "Asset Prices under Habit Formation and Catching up with the Joneses," NBER Working Papers 3279, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Robert E. Hall, 2000. "The stock market and capital accumulation," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Apr.
  5. Boldrin, M. & Christiano, L.J. & Fischer, J.D.M., 1996. "Asset Pricing Lessons for Modeling Business Cycles," Papers 268, Banca Italia - Servizio di Studi.
  6. Lars Hansen & Thomas Sargent & Thomas Tallarini, . "Robust Permanent Income and Pricing," GSIA Working Papers 1997-51, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  7. Cochrane, John H, 1991. " Production-Based Asset Pricing and the Link between Stock Returns and Economic Fluctuations," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 46(1), pages 209-37, March.
  8. Martin Feldstein, 1983. "Inflation, Tax Rules, and the Stock Market," NBER Chapters, in: Inflation, Tax Rules, and Capital Formation, pages 199-220 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. John Y. Campbell & Robert J. Shiller, 2001. "Valuation Ratios and the Long-Run Stock Market Outlook: An Update," NBER Working Papers 8221, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Ellen R. McGrattan & Edward C. Prescott, 2000. "Is the stock market overvalued?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 20-40.
  11. Epstein, Larry G & Zin, Stanley E, 1989. "Substitution, Risk Aversion, and the Temporal Behavior of Consumption and Asset Returns: A Theoretical Framework," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(4), pages 937-69, July.
  12. Fernando Alvarez & Urban J. Jermann, 1999. "Quantitative asset pricing implications of endogenous solvency constraints," Working Papers 99-5, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  13. John Heaton & Deborah Lucas, 1993. "Evaluating the Effects of Incomplete Markets on Risk Sharing and Asset Pricing," NBER Working Papers 4249, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. John Y. Campbell & John Cochrane, 1999. "Force of Habit: A Consumption-Based Explanation of Aggregate Stock Market Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(2), pages 205-251, April.
  15. Auerbach, Alan J, 1979. "Wealth Maximization and the Cost of Capital," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(3), pages 433-46, August.
  16. Cochrane, John H. & Campbell, John, 1999. "By Force of Habit: A Consumption-Based Explanation of Aggregate Stock Market Behavior," Scholarly Articles 3119444, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  17. Lawrence H. Summers, 1981. "Taxation and Corporate Investment: A q-Theory Approach," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 12(1), pages 67-140.
  18. Jermann, Urban J., 1998. "Asset pricing in production economies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 257-275, April.
  19. George M. Constantinidies & John B. Donaldson & Rajnish Mehra, 1998. "Junior Can't Borrow: A New Perspective on the Equity Premium Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 6617, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Martin Feldstein & Jerry Green, 1979. "Why Do Companies Pay Dividends?," NBER Working Papers 0413, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Epstein, Larry G & Zin, Stanley E, 1991. "Substitution, Risk Aversion, and the Temporal Behavior of Consumption and Asset Returns: An Empirical Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(2), pages 263-86, April.
  22. Martin Feldstein, 1978. "Inflation and the Stock Market," NBER Working Papers 0276, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1985. "The equity premium: A puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 145-161, March.
  24. Kurz, M. & Beltratti, A., 1996. "The Equity Premium Is No Puzzle," Papers 282, Banca Italia - Servizio di Studi.
  25. Gali, Jordi, 1994. "Keeping Up with the Joneses: Consumption Externalities, Portfolio Choice, and Asset Prices," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 26(1), pages 1-8, February.
  26. G. Constantinides, 1990. "Habit formation: a resolution of the equity premium puzzle," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1397, David K. Levine.
  27. Bansal, Ravi & Coleman, Wilbur John, II, 1996. "A Monetary Explanation of the Equity Premium, Term Premium, and Risk-Free Rate Puzzles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1135-71, December.
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