Creator: McGrattan, Ellen R. and Prescott, Edward C. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 294 Abstract:
Many stock market analysts think that in 1929, at the time of the crash, stocks were overvalued. Irving Fisher argued just before the crash that fundamentals were strong and the stock market was undervalued. In this paper, we use growth theory to estimate the fundamental value of corporate equity and compare it to actual stock valuations. Our estimate is based on values of productive corporate capital, both tangible and intangible, and tax rates on corporate income and distributions. The evidence strongly suggests that Fisher was right. Even at the 1929 peak, stocks were undervalued relative to the prediction of theory.
Subject (JEL): N22 - Economic History: Financial Markets and Institutions: U.S.; Canada: 1913-, G12 - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates, and E62 - Fiscal Policy
Creator: McGrattan, Ellen R. and Prescott, Edward C. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 313 Abstract:
Mehra and Prescott (1985) found the difference between average equity and debt returns puzzling because it was too large to be a premium for bearing nondiversifiable aggregate risk. Here, we re-examine this puzzle, taking into account some factors ignored by Mehra and Prescott—taxes, regulatory constraints, and diversification costs—and focusing on long-term rather than short-term savings instruments. Accounting for these factors, we find the difference between average equity and debt returns during peacetime in the last century is less than 1 percent, with the average real equity return somewhat under 5 percent, and the average real debt return almost 4 percent. As theory predicts, the real return on debt has been close to the 4 percent average after-tax real return on capital. Similarly, as theory predicts, the real return on equity is equal to the after-tax real return on capital plus a modest premium for bearing nondiversifiable aggregate risk.
Subject (JEL): G12 - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
Creator: McGrattan, Ellen R. and Prescott, Edward C. Series: Working paper (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 610 Abstract:
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.
Subject (JEL): E13 - General Aggregative Models: Neoclassical, G12 - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates, and H30 - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents: General