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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
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  2. 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.
  3. 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.
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  9. Feldstein, Martin & Green, Jerry, 1983. "Why Do Companies Pay Dividends?," Scholarly Articles 3204679, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. Alan J. Auerbach, 1979. "Wealth Maximization and the Cost of Capital," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 93(3), pages 433-446.
  11. John Y. Campbell & John H. Cochrane, 1995. "By Force of Habit: A Consumption-Based Explanation of Aggregate Stock Market Behavior," NBER Working Papers 4995, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Andrew B. Abel, . "Asset Prices Under Habit Formation and Catching Up With the Jones," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 01-90, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  13. 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.
  14. Alvarez, Fernando & Jermann, Urban J, 2001. "Quantitative Asset Pricing Implications of Endogenous Solvency Constraints," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 14(4), pages 1117-51.
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  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Kurz, M. & Beltratti, A., 1996. "The Equity Premium Is No Puzzle," Papers 282, Banca Italia - Servizio di Studi.
  19. Heaton, John & Lucas, Deborah J, 1996. "Evaluating the Effects of Incomplete Markets on Risk Sharing and Asset Pricing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(3), pages 443-87, June.
  20. Lars Hansen & Thomas Sargent & Thomas Tallarini, . "Robust Permanent Income and Pricing," GSIA Working Papers 1997-51, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
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  22. R. Mehra & E. Prescott, 2010. "The equity premium: a puzzle," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1401, David K. Levine.
  23. Kocherlakota, N., 1995. "The Equity Premium: It's Still a Puzzle," Working Papers 95-05, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. Jermann, Urban J., 1998. "Asset pricing in production economies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 257-275, April.
  27. Robert E. Hall, 1999. "The Stock Market and Capital Accumulation," NBER Working Papers 7180, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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