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Predictions of the Price of Capital


  • Edward Prescott
  • Ellen McGrattan


A central puzzle for asset pricing theory is that stock prices are much more volatile than corporate dividends. One possible resolution is to modify standard models by introducing stochastic discount factors that induce large variation in prices for relatively smooth sequences of dividends. But this ``solution'' does not help us with the deeper puzzle: measured values of corporate capital do not vary enough to justify the enormous variation in stock prices. Since the value of capital is itself equal to the discounted stream of dividends, adding stochastic discount factors only leads to counterfactual predictions for the value of the capital stock. In this paper, we consider factors that generate small movements in the resource cost of capital and large movements in the price of capital. The factors that we investigate are: time-varying tax rates; adjustment costs; irreversibilities in investment; constraints on investment that are sometimes binding; entry and exit of equity-issuing firms; changes in the price and quantity of intangible capital; and shifts in the marginal investor. Our goal is to determine the quantitative impact of each.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward Prescott & Ellen McGrattan, 2004. "Predictions of the Price of Capital," 2004 Meeting Papers 136, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed004:136

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    Asset pricing; productive capital;

    JEL classification:

    • E2 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates

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