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Rumors and Runs in Opaque Markets: Evidence from the Panic of 1907

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  • Fohlin, Caroline
  • Gehrig, Thomas
  • Haas, Marlene

Abstract

Using a new daily dataset for all stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange, we study the impact of information asymmetry during the liquidity freeze and market run of October 1907 - one of the most severe financial crises of the 20th century. We estimate that the run on the market increased spreads from 0.5% to 3% during the peak of the crisis and, using a spread decomposition, we also demonstrate that fears of informed trading account for most of that deterioration of liquidity. Information costs rose most in the mining sector - the origin of the panic rumors - and in other sectors with poor track records of corporate reporting. In addition to wider spreads and tight money markets, we find other hallmarks of information-based illiquidity: trading volume dropped and price impact rose. Importantly, despite short-term cash infusions into the market, we find that the market remained relatively illiquid for several months following the panic. We go on to show that rising illiquidity enters positively in the cross section of stock returns. Thus, our findings demonstrate how opaque markets can easily transmit an idiosyncratic rumor into a long-lasting, market-wide crisis. Our results also demonstrate the usefulness of illiquidity measures to alert market participants to impending market runs.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:10497
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    Cited by:

    1. Moen, Jon & Tallman, Ellis, 2018. "Outside Lending in the New York City Call Loan Market," MPRA Paper 88733, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Grodecka, Anna & Kenny, Seán & Ögren, Anders, 2018. "Predictors of Bank Distress:The 1907 Crisis in Sweden," Working Paper Series 358, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden).
    3. Ellis W. Tallman & Jon R. Moen, 2018. "The transmission of the financial crisis in 1907: an empirical investigation," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 12(2), pages 277-312, May.
    4. 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).
    5. Gehrig, Thomas & Haas, Marlene, 2016. "Anomalous Trading Prior to Lehman Brothers' Failure," CEPR Discussion Papers 11194, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    information risk; liquidity risk; price discovery; rumour-based panic;

    JEL classification:

    • G00 - Financial Economics - - General - - - General
    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading
    • N00 - Economic History - - General - - - General
    • N2 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions

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