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Hidden Skewness

  • Ludwig Ensthaler
  • Olga Nottmeyer
  • Georg Weizsäcker

Multiplicative growth processes that are subject to random shocks often have a skewed distribution of outcomes. A simple laboratory experiment shows that participants either strongly underestimate skewness or ignore it completely. The participants' choices reveal bounds on their subjective medians of a financial asset's price that is subject to stochastic growth. The observed bias in expectations is irrespective to risk preferences and fairly robust to feedback. It is consistent with a behavioral model in which geometric growth is confused with linear growth. The bias is a possible explanation of investors' misunderstandings of real-world financial products like leveraged ETFs.

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Paper provided by DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research in its series Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin with number 1238.

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Length: 16 : Anh. p.
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp1238
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  1. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2011. "Financial Literacy and Planning: Implications for Retirement Wellbeing," NBER Working Papers 17078, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Shlomo Benartzi & Richard H. Thaler, 1999. "Risk Aversion or Myopia? Choices in Repeated Gambles and Retirement Investments," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 45(3), pages 364-381, March.
  3. Klaus Abbink & Bettina Rockenbach, 2006. "Option pricing by students and professional traders: a behavioural investigation," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(6), pages 497-510.
  4. Gneezy, U., 1996. "Probability Judgements in Multi-Stage Problems : Experimental Evidence of Systematic Biases," Discussion Paper 1996-01, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  5. Victor Stango & Jonathan Zinman, 2009. "Exponential Growth Bias and Household Finance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 64(6), pages 2807-2849, December.
  6. Cox, John C. & Ross, Stephen A. & Rubinstein, Mark, 1979. "Option pricing: A simplified approach," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 229-263, September.
  7. Haipeng (Allan) Chen & Akshay R. Rao, 2007. "When Two Plus Two Is Not Equal to Four: Errors in Processing Multiple Percentage Changes," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(3), pages 327-340, 06.
  8. Alexander Klos & Elke U. Weber & Martin Weber, 2005. "Investment Decisions and Time Horizon: Risk Perception and Risk Behavior in Repeated Gambles," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 51(12), pages 1777-1790, December.
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