Back in 1996 many—if not most— careful and informed observers believed that the U.S. stock market was significantly overvalued. Billionaire Warren Buffett wrote to his shareholders at Berkshire Hathaway that good investment opportunities had become very difficult to find. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan gave his “irrational exuberance” speech, which was broadly taken as a signal not just that the stock market was overvalued but that he was thinking of raising interest rates to do something about it. Price-earnings ratios on broad market indices were crossing 25 and reaching levels that they had rarely reached outside recession years. It smelled like the excited bull market of the 1960s and of the last year before the Great Crash of 1929.
July 1, 2006
Economists' Voice, July 2006