Research and Analysis by Peter A. Diamond

What Stock Market Returns to Expect for the Future?
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 63 No. 2 (released December 2000)
by Peter A. Diamond

High stock prices, together with projected slow economic growth, are not consistent with the 7.0 percent return that the Office of the Chief Actuary has generally used when evaluating proposals with stock investments. Routes out of the inconsistency include assuming higher GDP growth, a lower long-run stock return, or a lower short-run stock return with a 7.0 percent return on a lower base thereafter. In short, either the stock market is overvalued and requires a correction to justify a 7.0 percent return thereafter, or it is correctly valued and the long-run return is substantially lower than 7.0 percent (or some combination of the two). This article argues that the former view is more convincing, since accepting the "correctly valued" hypothesis implies an implausibly small equity premium.