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Outside the Box: Stock market’s real driver is not what you think

What makes the stock market move over the long term? While stocks have historically delivered positive returns year-over-year on average, it is not clear why stock prices rise more rapidly in one period than in any other.

With my colleagues, Martin Lettau of the U.C. Berkeley Haas School of Business and Sydney Ludvigson of New York University, I set out to investigate what makes stocks move over time. What we found was surprising.

Despite the widespread belief that firm productivity is a key driver of stock market returns, our results indicate that fluctuations in productivity play only a small role.

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