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Arbitrage Chains

  • James Dow
  • Gary Gorton

In efficient markets the price should reflect the arrival of private information. The mechanism by which this is accomplished is arbitrage. A privately informed trader will engage in costly arbitrage, that is, trade on his knowledge that the price of an asset is different from the fundamental value if: (1) his order does not move the price immediately to reflect the information; (2) he can hold the asset until the date when the information is reflected in the price. We study a general equilibrium model in which all agents optimize. In each period, there may be a trader with a limited horizon who has private information about a distant event. Whether he acts on his information, and whether subsequent informed traders act, is shown to depend on the possibility of a sequence or chain of future informed traders spanning the event date. An arbitrageur who receives good news will buy only if it is likely that, at the end of his trading horizon, a subsequent arbitrageurs’ buying will have pushed up the expected price. We show that limited trading horizons result in inefficient prices because informed traders do not act on their information until the event date is sufficiently close.

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Paper provided by Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research in its series Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers with number 06-93.

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Handle: RePEc:fth:pennfi:06-93
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  1. De Long, J. Bradford & Shleifer, Andrei & Summers, Lawrence H. & Waldmann, Robert J., 1990. "Noise Trader Risk in Financial Markets," Scholarly Articles 3725552, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Brennan, Michael J & Hughes, Patricia J, 1991. " Stock Prices and the Supply of Information," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 46(5), pages 1665-91, December.
  3. Kyle, Albert S, 1985. "Continuous Auctions and Insider Trading," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(6), pages 1315-35, November.
  4. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1990. "Equilibrium Short Horizons of Investors and Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 148-53, May.
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