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March 24, 2005

Asset Returns and Economic Growth: Full Draft

Yes, we have a full draft of:

Dean Baker, J. Bradford DeLong, and Paul Krugman (forthcoming 2005), "Asset Returns and Economic Growth," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity 2005:1.


We in America are probably facing a demographic transition—a slowdown in the rate of natural population increase—and possibly facing a slowdown in productivity growth as well. If these two factors do in fact push down the rate of economic growth in the future, is it still prudent to assume that the past performance of assets is an indication of future results? We argue “no.” Simple standard closed-economy growth models predict that growth slowdowns are likely to lower the marginal product of capital, and thus the long-run rate of return. Moreover, if you assume that current asset valuations represent rational expectations, simple arithmetic tells us that it is next to impossible for past rates of return to continue through a forthcoming growth slowdown. Only a large shift in the distribution of income toward capital or current account surpluses larger than those of nineteenth century Britain sustained for generations give promise for reconciling a slowdown in future economic growth with a continuation of historical asset returns.

Posted by DeLong at March 24, 2005 01:35 PM