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The Stock Market and the Corporate Sector: A Profit-Based Approach

  • Anwar M. Shaikh

    (The Jerome Levy Economics Institute)

This paper shows that the empirical movements of stock prices can be explained directly by fundamentals. The real stock market rate of return is shown to closely track the real incremental rate of profit of the corporate sector, with the two rates displaying similar means and standard deviations. It is argued that the two are linked by capital flows between the sectors through a process we call "turbulent arbitrage". Actual equity prices closely track the prices closely track the prices warranted by this model, and unlike the standard results, are less volatile than the warranted ones. The theoretical approach taken in this paper implies that the incremental profit rate is the required rate of return for the stock market return. The observed volatility on stock market returns and prices arises from the fact that the required rate is itself highly volatile, driven by cyclical and other short term fluctuations in aggregate demand. It is then easy to see why conventional theoretical models, which typically assume constant required rates of return (discount rates) and constant dividend growth rates, are largely unable to explain the movements in stock prices. On the other hand, since the incremental rate of profit (net of interest) is essentially the change in earnings normalized by investment, the findings of this paper accord well the experience "on the street" that stock price movements are driven by interest rates and changes in earnings.

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File URL: http://econwpa.repec.org/eps/mac/papers/9811/9811007.pdf
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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Macroeconomics with number 9811007.

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Length: 16 pages
Date of creation: 19 Nov 1998
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:9811007
Note: Type of Document - Acrobat PDF; prepared on IBM PC; to print on PostScript; pages: 16; figures: included
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://econwpa.repec.org

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  1. De Long, J. Bradford & Shleifer, Andrei & Summers, Lawrence H. & Waldmann, Robert J., 1990. "Noise Trader Risk in Financial Markets," Scholarly Articles 3725552, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. John Y. Campbell, 1990. "A Variance Decomposition for Stock Returns," NBER Working Papers 3246, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Campbell, John Y, 1990. "Measuring the Persistence of Expected Returns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 43-47, May.
  4. Feldstein, Martin S & Rothschild, Michael, 1974. "Towards an Economic Theory of Replacement Investment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 42(3), pages 393-423, May.
  5. Culter, D.M. & Poterba, J.M. & Summers, L.H., 1990. "Speculative Dynamics And The Role Of Feedback Traders," Working papers 545, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  6. Fama, Eugene F, 1991. " Efficient Capital Markets: II," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 46(5), pages 1575-617, December.
  7. Shiller, Robert J, 1989. " Comovements in Stock Prices and Comovements in Dividends," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 44(3), pages 719-29, July.
  8. Robert B. Barsky & J. Bradford De Long, 1992. "Why Does the Stock Market Fluctuate?," NBER Working Papers 3995, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Fama, Eugene F & French, Kenneth R, 1988. "Permanent and Temporary Components of Stock Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 246-73, April.
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