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A Rational Explanation For Home Country Bias

  • Iftekhar Hasan
  • Yusif Simaan

While modern portfolio theory predicts that investors should diversify across international markets, corporate equity is essentially held by domestic investors. French and Poterba (1991) suggest that in order for this bias to be justified, investors must hold optimistic expectations about their domestic markets and pessimistic expectations about their foreign markets. Tesar and Werner (1995) find existing explanations to the home equity bias unsatisfactory and conclude that the issue poses a challenge for portfolio theory. We develop a model that incorporates both the foregone gains from diversification and the informational constraints of international investing, and shows that home equity bias is consistent with rational mean-variance portfolio choice. Specifically, we prove that the nature of estimation risk in international markets can be responsible for this phenomenon. We show that when the cross-market variability in the estimation errors of international markets' means far exceeds the cross-market variability in the means themselves, domestic dedication dominates international diversification. An examination of eleven international markets' returns over the last twenty-five years, from the perspective of German, Japanese and U.S investors provides evidence consistent with this explanation.

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Paper provided by New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business- in its series New York University, Leonard N. Stern School Finance Department Working Paper Seires with number 99-067.

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Date of creation: 1999
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fth:nystfi:99-067
Contact details of provider: Postal: U.S.A.; New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics . 44 West 4th Street. New York, New York 10012-1126
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  1. Culter, D.M. & Poterba, J.M. & Summers, L.H., 1990. "Speculative Dynamics," Working papers 544, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Harry Markowitz, 1952. "Portfolio Selection," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 7(1), pages 77-91, 03.
  3. Dumas, Bernard & Solnik, Bruno, 1995. " The World Price of Foreign Exchange Risk," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(2), pages 445-79, June.
  4. Bekaert, Geert & Hodrick, Robert J, 1992. " Characterizing Predictable Components in Excess Returns on Equity and Foreign Exchange Markets," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(2), pages 467-509, June.
  5. Levy, Haim & Sarnat, Marshall, 1970. "International Diversification of Investment Portfolios," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(4), pages 668-75, September.
  6. Jorion, Philippe, 1985. "International Portfolio Diversification with Estimation Risk," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58(3), pages 259-78, July.
  7. Michael Mussa & Morris Goldstein, 1993. "The integration of world capital markets," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 245-330.
  8. Kenneth D. West & Hali J. Edison & Dongchul Cho, 1993. "A utility based comparison of some models of exchange rate volatility," International Finance Discussion Papers 441, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. Robert R. Grauer and Nils H. Hakansson., 1987. "Gains from International Diversification: l968-85 Returns on Portfolios of Stocks and Bonds," Research Program in Finance Working Papers 168, University of California at Berkeley.
  10. Yusif Simaan, 1993. "What is the Opportunity Cost of Mean-Variance Investment Strategies?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 39(5), pages 578-587, May.
  11. Tesar, Linda L. & Werner, Ingrid M., 1995. "Home bias and high turnover," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 467-492, August.
  12. Kenneth R. French & James M. Poterba, 1991. "Investor Diversification and International Equity Markets," NBER Working Papers 3609, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. George J. Stigler, 1961. "The Economics of Information," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 69, pages 213.
  14. Jun-Koo Kang & Rene M. Stulz, 1995. "Why Is There a Home Bias? An Analysis of Foreign Portfolio Equity Ownership in Japan," NBER Working Papers 5166, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. John L. G. Board & Charles M. S. Sutcliffe, 1994. "Estimation Methods in Portfolio Selection and the Effectiveness of Short Sales Restrictions: UK Evidence," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 40(4), pages 516-534, April.
  16. Harvey, Campbell R, 1991. " The World Price of Covariance Risk," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 46(1), pages 111-57, March.
  17. Cooper, Ian & Kaplanis, Evi, 1994. "Home Bias in Equity Portfolios, Inflation Hedging, and International Capital Market Equilibrium," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 7(1), pages 45-60.
  18. Ferson, Wayne E & Harvey, Campbell R, 1993. "The Risk and Predictability of International Equity Returns," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 6(3), pages 527-66.
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