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Obfuscation, Learning, and the Evolution of Investor Sophistication

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  • Bruce Ian Carlin
  • Gustavo Manso
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    Abstract

    Investor sophistication has lagged behind the growing complexity of retail financial markets. To explore this, we develop a dynamic model to study the interaction between obfuscation and investor sophistication in mutual fund markets. Taking into account different learning mechanisms within the investor population, we characterize the optimal timing of obfuscation for financial institutions who offer retail products. We show that educational initiatives that are directed to facilitate learning by investors may induce providers to increase wasteful obfuscation, further disorienting investors and decreasing overall welfare. Obfuscation decreases with competition among firms, since the information rents from obfuscation dissipate as each institution attracts a smaller market share. The Author 2011. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Society for Financial Studies. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org., Oxford University Press.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Society for Financial Studies in its journal Review of Financial Studies.

    Volume (Year): 24 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 3 ()
    Pages: 754-785

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    Handle: RePEc:oup:rfinst:v:24:y:2011:i:3:p:754-785

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    Cited by:
    1. Arnold, Marc & Schuette, Dustin & Wagner, Alexander, . "Pay Attention or Pay Extra: Evidence on the Compensation of Investors for the Implicit Credit Risk of Structured Products," Working Papers on Finance 1406, University of St. Gallen, School of Finance.
    2. Robert D. J. Anderson & John Ashton & Robert S. Hudson, 2013. "The Influence of Product Age on Pricing Decisions: An examination of bank deposit interest rate setting," Working Papers 13014, Bangor Business School, Prifysgol Bangor University (Cymru / Wales).
    3. Alisdair McKay, 2013. "Search for Financial Returns and Social Security Privatization," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 16(2), pages 253-270, April.
    4. Lev Ratnovski, 2013. "Liquidity and Transparency in Bank Risk Management," IMF Working Papers 13/16, International Monetary Fund.
    5. Kosfeld, Michael & Schüwer, Ulrich, 2014. "Add-on pricing in retail financial markets and the fallacies of consumer education," SAFE Working Paper Series 47, Research Center SAFE - Sustainable Architecture for Finance in Europe, Goethe University Frankfurt.
    6. Gu, Yiquan & Wenzel, Tobias, 2012. "Strategic obfuscation and consumer protection policy in financial markets: Theory and experimental evidence," DICE Discussion Papers 76, Heinrich‐Heine‐Universität Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
    7. Schultz, Paul, 2012. "The market for new issues of municipal bonds: The roles of transparency and limited access to retail investors," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(3), pages 492-512.
    8. Alisdair McKay, 2011. "Household Saving Behavior and Social Security Privatization," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2011-027, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    9. Élise PAYZAN LE NESTOUR, 2010. "Bayesian Learning in UnstableSettings: Experimental Evidence Based on the Bandit Problem," Swiss Finance Institute Research Paper Series 10-28, Swiss Finance Institute.
    10. Ferreira, Miguel A. & Keswani, Aneel & Miguel, Antonio F. & Ramos, Sofia B., 2012. "The flow-performance relationship around the world," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(6), pages 1759-1780.
    11. Nick Vikander, 2014. "Sellouts, Beliefs, and Bandwagon Behavior," Discussion Papers 14-15, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    12. Bruce Ian Carlin & Florian Ederer, 2012. "Search Fatigue," NBER Working Papers 17895, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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