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The Growth and Limits of Arbitrage: Evidence from Short Interest

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  • Samuel G. Hanson
  • Adi Sunderam

Abstract

We develop a novel methodology to infer the amount of capital allocated to quantitative equity arbitrage strategies. Using this methodology, which exploits time-variation in the cross-section of short interest, we document that the amount of capital devoted to value and momentum strategies has grown significantly since the late 1980s. We provide evidence that this increase in capital has resulted in lower strategy returns. However, consistent with theories of limited arbitrage, we show that strategy-level capital flows are influenced by past strategy returns and strategy return volatility and that arbitrage capital is most limited during times when strategies perform best. This suggests that the growth of arbitrage capital may not completely eliminate returns to these strategies.

Suggested Citation

  • Samuel G. Hanson & Adi Sunderam, 2014. "The Growth and Limits of Arbitrage: Evidence from Short Interest," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 27(4), pages 1238-1286.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:rfinst:v:27:y:2014:i:4:p:1238-1286.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/rfs/hht066
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Adrian W. K. Cheung & Hung Wan Kot & Eric F. Y. Lam & Harry K. M. Leung, 2020. "Toward understanding short‐selling activity: demand and supply," Accounting and Finance, Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 60(3), pages 2203-2230, September.
    2. Samuel M. Hartzmark & Kelly Shue, 2017. "A Tough Act to Follow: Contrast Effects In Financial Markets," NBER Working Papers 23883, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Wang, Xue & Yan, Xuemin (Sterling) & Zheng, Lingling, 2020. "Shorting flows, public disclosure, and market efficiency," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 135(1), pages 191-212.
    4. Atmaz, Adem & Basak, Suleyman, 2019. "Option prices and costly short-selling," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(1), pages 1-28.
    5. Yang, Chunpeng & Zhou, Liyun, 2016. "Individual stock crowded trades, individual stock investor sentiment and excess returns," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 39-53.
    6. Jacobs, Heiko & Müller, Sebastian, 2020. "Anomalies across the globe: Once public, no longer existent?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 135(1), pages 213-230.
    7. John Cotter & Niall McGeever, 2018. "Are equity market anomalies disappearing? Evidence from the U.K," Working Papers 201804, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    8. Jawad M. Addoum & Alok Kumar, 2016. "Political Sentiment and Predictable Returns," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 29(12), pages 3471-3518.
    9. Wu, Juan (Julie) & Zhang, Jianzhong (Andrew), 2019. "Short selling and market anomalies," Journal of Financial Markets, Elsevier, vol. 46(C).
    10. Lee, Eunju & Piqueira, Natalia, 2017. "Short selling around the 52-week and historical highs," Journal of Financial Markets, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 75-101.
    11. Zhu, Zhaobo & Duan, Xinrui & Sun, Licheng & Tu, Jun, 2019. "Momentum and reversal: The role of short selling," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 95-110.
    12. Theissen, Erik & Yilanci, Can, 2020. "Momentum? What Momentum?," CFR Working Papers 20-09, University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
    13. Reed, Adam V. & Samadi, Mehrdad & Sokobin, Jonathan S., 2020. "Shorting in Broad Daylight: Short Sales and Venue Choice," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 55(7), pages 2246-2269, November.
    14. Hu, Conghui & Liu, Yu-Jane & Zhu, Ning, 2019. "De-Leverage and illiquidity contagion," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 1-18.
    15. Lou, Dong & Polk, Christopher & Skouras, Spyros, 2019. "A tug of war: Overnight versus intraday expected returns," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(1), pages 192-213.
    16. Kanis Saengchote, 2017. "The Low-Risk Anomaly: Evidence from the Thai Stock Market," Asian Academy of Management Journal of Accounting and Finance (AAMJAF), Penerbit Universiti Sains Malaysia, vol. 13(1), pages 143-158.
    17. Cho, Thummim, 2020. "Turning alphas into betas: Arbitrage and endogenous risk," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 137(2), pages 550-570.
    18. Strobel, Marcus & Auer, Benjamin R., 2018. "Does the predictive power of variable moving average rules vanish over time and can we explain such tendencies?," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 168-184.
    19. Zhu, Zhaobo & Sun, Licheng & Yung, Kenneth, 2020. "Fundamental strength strategy: The role of investor sentiment versus limits to arbitrage," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 71(C).
    20. Kahraman, Bige & Pachare, Salil, 2018. "Show us your shorts!," CEPR Discussion Papers 12658, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    21. Guo, Li & Li, Frank Weikai & John Wei, K.C., 2020. "Security analysts and capital market anomalies," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 137(1), pages 204-230.

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