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Animal Spirits

Are investors and traders cats, rationally and independently sniffing out returns? Or are they cows, flowing with a herd that must know something? These blog entries relate to behavioral finance, the study of the animal spirits of investing and trading.

Investors Behaving Badly?

“[B]ehavioral finance attempts to explain and increase understanding of the reasoning patterns of investors, including the emotional processes involved and the degree to which they influence the decision-making process. Essentially, behavioral finance attempts to explain the what, why, and how of finance and investing, from a human perspective.” In his March 2005 paper entitled “A Research Starting Point for the New Scholar: A Unique Perspective of Behavioral Finance,” Victor Ricciardi provides a brief history and overview of behavioral finance. He notes that: Keep Reading

Your Attention, Please! (You Are About to Lose Money)

In their January 2005 paper on “Profiting from Predictability: Smart Traders, Daily Price Limits, and Investor Attention”, Mark Seasholes and Guojun Wu examine the counterplay between active individual investors and rational speculators (smart traders) after attention-grabbing events. Exploiting special access to detailed trading data for the Shanghai Stock Exchange during January 2001 through July 2003, they show that: Keep Reading

The Media: All Frenzy All the Time?

In his July 2003 draft paper “Meta-Communication and Market Dynamics. Reflexive Interactions of Financial Markets and the Mass Media”, Thomas Schuster explores the role of the media in feeding investor irrationality. He concludes that: Keep Reading

The Importance of Animal Spirits?

In their October 2003 paper entitled “Determinants of Stock Market Volatility and Risk Premia”, Mordecai Kurz, Hehui Jin and Maurizio Motolese model and examine “the dynamics of diverse [but still rational] beliefs” as the driver of asset market volatility. Specifically, they postulate that: Keep Reading

Implicit Coordination of Individual Investors?

In their April 2003 paper entitled “Systematic Noise”, Brad Barber, Terrance Odean and Ning Zhu investigate the degree to which the trading behaviors of individual investors are systematic and herd-like. Using samples of 66,465 investors at a large national discount broker and 665,533 investors at a large retail broker, they find that: Keep Reading

Overview of Investor Herding

Investor herding is convergence of behavior based only on observation of what others are doing (such as buying or selling). Examples in the stock market are trend-following, “don’t fight the tape” and momentum investing. Herding is distinct from investors acting at the same time but independently in response to news related to investment fundamentals (such as the latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics or a company earnings release). In their December 2001 paper entitled Herd Behavior and Cascading in Capital Markets: A Review and Synthesis, David Hirshleifer and Siew Hong Teoh provide an overview of financial herding. Keep Reading

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