We derive the quantitative implications of growth theory for U.S. corporate equity plus net debt over the period 1960–2001. There were large secular movements in corporate equity values relative to GDP, with dramatic declines in the 1970s and dramatic increases starting in the 1980s and continuing throughout the 1990s. During the same period, there was little change in the capital-output ratio or earnings share of output. We ask specifically whether the theory accounts for these observations. We find that it does, with the critical factor being changes in the U.S. tax and regulatory system. We find that the theory also accounts for the even larger movements in U.K. equity values relative to GDP in this period.
In this paper, we show that ignoring corporate intangible investments gives a distorted picture of the post-1990 U.S. economy. In particular, ignoring intangible investments in the late 1990s leads one to conclude that productivity growth was modest, corporate profits were low, and corporate investment was at moderate levels. In fact, the late 1990s was a boom period for productivity growth, corporate profits, and corporate investment.
This essay develops a theory of the evolution of international income levels. In particular, it augments the Hansen-Prescott theory of economic development with the Parente-Prescott theory of relative efficiencies and shows that the unified theory accounts for the evolution of international income levels over the last millennium. The essence of this unified theory is that a country starts to experience sustained increases in its living standard when production efficiency reaches a critical point. Countries reach this critical level of efficiency at different dates not because they have access to different stocks of knowledge, but rather because they differ in the amount of society-imposed constraints on the technology choices of their citizenry.
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.
This paper reviews the role of micro non-convexities in the study of business cycles. One important non-convexity arises because an individual can work only one workweek length in a given week. The implication of this non-convexity is that the aggregate intertemporal elasticity of labor supply is large and the principal margin of adjustment is in the number employed—not in the hours per person employed—as observed. The paper also reviews a business cycle model with an occasionally binding capacity constraint. This model better mimics business cycle fluctuations than the standard real business cycle model. Aggregation in the presence of micro non-convexities is key in the model.
Americans now work 50 percent more than do the Germans, French, and Italians. This was not the case in the early 1970s when the Western Europeans worked more than Americans. In this paper, I examine the role of taxes in accounting for the differences in labor supply across time and across countries, in particular, the effective marginal tax rate on labor income. The population of countries considered is that of the G-7 countries, which are major advanced industrial countries. The surprising finding is that this marginal tax rate accounts for the predominance of the differences at points in time and the large change in relative labor supply over time with the exception of the Italian labor supply in the early 1970s.