Measuring the total return variation explained by shocks to expected cash flows, time-varying expected returns, and shocks to expected returns is one way to judge the rationality of stock prices. Variables that proxy for expected returns and expected-return shocks capture 30% of the variance of annual NYSE value-weighted returns. Growth rates of production, used to proxy for shocks to expected cash flows, explain 43% of the return variance. Whether the combined explanatory power of the variables—about 58% of the variance of annual returns—is good or bad news about market efficiency is left for the reader to judge.
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