EDGAR on the internet: The welfare effects of wider information distribution in an experimental market for risky assets
Policies such as the SECâ€™s Fair Disclosure Rule, and technologies such as SEC EDGAR, aim to disseminate corporate disclosures to a wider audience of investors in risky assets. In this study, we adopt an experimental approach to measure whether this wider disclosure is beneficial to these investors. Price-clearing equilibrium models based on utility maximization and non-revealing and fully-revealing prices predict that in a pure exchange economy, an arbitrary trader would prefer that no investors are informed rather than all are informed; non-revealing theory further predicts that an arbitrary trader would prefer a situation in which all traders are informed rather than half the traders are informed. These predictions can be summarized as â€œNone > All > Halfâ€. A laboratory study was conducted to test these predictions. Where previous studies have largely focused on information dissemination and its effects on equilibrium price and insider profits, we focus instead on tradersâ€™ expected utility, as measured by their preferences for markets in which none, half, or all traders are informed. Our experimental result contradicts the prediction and indicates â€œHalf > None > Allâ€, i.e. subjects favor a situation where a random half is informed. The implication is that in addition to testing predictions of price equilibrium, experiments should also be used to verify analytical welfare predictions of expected utility under different policy choices. Copyright Economic Science Association 2006
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