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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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  4. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1985. "The equity premium: A puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 145-161, March.
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  7. 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.
  8. Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent & Thomas D. Tallarini Jr., 1997. "Robust Permanent Income and Pricing," Levine's Working Paper Archive 596, David K. Levine.
  9. Robert E. Hall, 2000. "The stock market and capital accumulation," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Apr.
  10. Kurz, M. & Beltratti, A., 1996. "The Equity Premium Is No Puzzle," Papers 282, Banca Italia - Servizio di Studi.
  11. Kocherlakota, N., 1995. "The Equity Premium: It's Still a Puzzle," Working Papers 95-05, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
  12. Constantinides, George M, 1990. "Habit Formation: A Resolution of the Equity Premium Puzzle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(3), pages 519-43, June.
  13. John Y. Campbell & Robert J. Shiller, 2001. "Valuation Ratios and the Long-run Stock Market Outlook: An Update," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1295, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
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  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Ellen R. McGrattan & Edward C. Prescott, 2000. "Is the stock market overvalued?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 20-40.
  19. Feldstein, Martin, 1980. "Inflation and the Stock Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 839-47, December.
  20. Alan J. Auerbach, 1980. "Wealth Maximization and the Cost of Capital," NBER Working Papers 0254, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  22. 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.
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  24. John H. Cochrane, 1988. "Production Based Asset Pricing," NBER Working Papers 2776, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
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