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A Theory of Asset Prices Based on Heterogeneous Information

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Abstract

We propose a theory of asset prices that emphasizes heterogeneous information as the main element determining prices of different securities. Our main analytical innovation is in formulating a model of noisy information aggregation through asset prices, which is parsimonious and tractable, yet flexible in the specification of cash flow risks. We show that the noisy aggregation of heterogeneous investor beliefs drives a systematic wedge between the impact of fundamentals on an asset price, and the corresponding impact on cash flow expectations. The key intuition behind the wedge is that the identity of the marginal trader has to shift for different realization of the underlying shocks to satisfy the market-clearing condition. This identity shift amplifies the impact of price on the marginal trader's expectations. We derive tight characterization for both the conditional and the unconditional expected wedges. Our first main theorem shows how the sign of the expected wedge (that is, the difference between the expected price and the dividends) depends on the shape of the dividend payoff function and on the degree of informational frictions. Our second main theorem provides conditions under which the variability of prices exceeds the variability for realized dividends. We conclude with two applications of our theory. First, we highlight how heterogeneous information can lead to systematic departures from the Modigliani-Miller theorem. Second, in a dynamic extension of our model we provide conditions under which bubbles arise.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University in its series Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers with number 1827.

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Length: 43 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1827

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Keywords: Information aggregation; Information wedge; Heterogeneous beliefs; Modigliani-Miller theorem; Bubbles;

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References

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  1. Spiegel, Matthew, 1998. "Stock Price Volatility in a Multiple Security Overlapping Generations Model," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 11(2), pages 419-47.
  2. Hong, Harrison & Sraer, David, 2013. "Quiet bubbles," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(3), pages 596-606.
  3. Harrison Hong & Jeremy C. Stein, 2007. "Disagreement and the Stock Market," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 109-128, Spring.
  4. Brunnermeier, Markus K., 2001. "Asset Pricing under Asymmetric Information: Bubbles, Crashes, Technical Analysis, and Herding," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198296980.
  5. Kenneth D. West, 1986. "Dividend Innovations and Stock Price Volatility," NBER Working Papers 1833, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Harrison, J Michael & Kreps, David M, 1978. "Speculative Investor Behavior in a Stock Market with Heterogeneous Expectations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 92(2), pages 323-36, May.
  7. Elias Albagli & Christian Hellwig & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2011. "Information Aggregation, Investment, and Managerial Incentives," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1816, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  8. Christian Hellwig & Arijit Mukherji & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2005. "Self-Fulfilling Currency Crises: The Role of Interest Rates," NBER Working Papers 11191, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Allen F. & Morris S. & Postlewaite A., 1993. "Finite Bubbles with Short Sale Constraints and Asymmetric Information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 206-229, December.
  10. LeRoy, Stephen F & Porter, Richard D, 1981. "The Present-Value Relation: Tests Based on Implied Variance Bounds," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(3), pages 555-74, May.
  11. Hellwig, Martin F., 1980. "On the aggregation of information in competitive markets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 477-498, June.
  12. Masahiro Watanabe, 2008. "Price Volatility and Investor Behavior in an Overlapping Generations Model with Information Asymmetry," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 63(1), pages 229-272, 02.
  13. Diamond, Douglas W. & Verrecchia, Robert E., 1981. "Information aggregation in a noisy rational expectations economy," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 221-235, September.
  14. John H. Cochrane, 1992. "Explaining the Variance of Price Dividend Ratios," NBER Working Papers 3157, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Gadi Barlevy, 2008. "A Leverage Based Model of Speculative Bubbles," 2008 Meeting Papers 196, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Ken Kasa & Todd Walker & Charles Whiteman, 2012. "Heterogenous Beliefs and Tests of Present Value Models," Discussion Papers dp12-06, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.

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