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Liquidity and Competition in Unregulated Markets


  • Caroline Fohlin
  • Thomas Gehrig
  • Tobias Brünner


Despite reputedly widespread market manipulation and insider trading, we find surprisingly high liquidity and low transactions costs for actively traded securities on the NYSE between 1890 and 1910, decades before SEC regulation. Moreover, market makers behave largely as predicted in theory: stocks with liquid markets and competitive market makers (cross-trading at the rival Consolidated Exchange) trade with substantially lower quoted bid-ask spreads and with less anti-competitive behavior (price discreteness). Effective spreads, illiquidity, and volume all improve monotonically over time. Notably, the asymmetric information component of effective spreads increases in relative and absolute terms from 1900 to 1910.

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  • Caroline Fohlin & Thomas Gehrig & Tobias Brünner, 2008. "Liquidity and Competition in Unregulated Markets," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 101, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
  • Handle: RePEc:cca:wpaper:101

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Porath Elchanan Ben & Gilboa Itzhak, 1994. "Linear Measures, the Gini Index, and The Income-Equality Trade-off," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 443-467, December.
    2. Colombino, Ugo & Locatelli, Marilena & Narazani, Edlira & O'Donoghue, Cathal & Shima, Isilda, 2008. "Behavioural and welfare effects of basic income policies: a simulation for European countries," EUROMOD Working Papers EM5/08, EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fohlin, Caroline & Gehrig, Thomas & Haas, Marlene, 2015. "Rumors and Runs in Opaque Markets: Evidence from the Panic of 1907," CEPR Discussion Papers 10497, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Caroline Fohlin, 2016. "When 'No News' is Bad News: Complexity and Uncertainty in the Global Crisis of 1914," Emory Economics 1606, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).
    3. Gehrig, Thomas Paul & Fohlin, Caroline & Haas, Marlene, 2015. "Liquidty Freezes and Market Runs; Evidencefrom the Panic of 1907," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113008, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

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