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Understanding International Portfolio Diversification and Turnover Rates

  • Amir Amadi
  • Paul Bergin

This paper argues that fixed trading costs in international asset markets help explain equity home bias. This contrasts with explanations prevalent in international macroeconomics, which tend to be based on trading frictions instead in international goods markets, such as nontraded goods or transportation costs. While the stylized fact of high trading turnover in foreign holdings has been interpreted as evidence against international asset trading costs, we show that this argument only applies to costs that are proportional to trade, and not to fixed costs of entering the foreign market. After documenting that the home bias and turnover stylized facts remain valid in recent data, the paper constructs a very simple portfolio allocation model with various configurations of trading costs and with heterogeneous types of traders. A configuration with per unit costs heterogeneous among agents and a homogeneous fixed cost is found to replicate the pair of stylized facts. Intuitively, the lower trading costs that characterize larger and more efficient traders have two implications: firstly, these traders find it more profitable to enter foreign markets; secondly, their lower trading costs encourage a higher rate of trading turnover. Since holdings of international equities are disproportionately dominated by this class of larger and more efficient traders, average trading turnover is higher among international holdings.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12473.

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Date of creation: Aug 2006
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Publication status: published as Amadi, Amir A. & Bergin, Paul R., 2008. "Understanding international portfolio diversification and turnover rates," Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 191-206, April.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12473
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  1. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth Rogoff, 2000. "The Six Major Puzzles in International Macroeconomics: Is There a Common Cause?," NBER Working Papers 7777, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Kenneth R. French & James M. Poterba, 1991. "Investor Diversification and International Equity Markets," NBER Working Papers 3609, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Patrick F. Rowland & Linda L. Tesar, 1998. "Multinationals and the Gains from International Diversification," NBER Working Papers 6733, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Pesenti, Paolo & van Wincoop, Eric, 2002. "Can Nontradables Generate Substantial Home Bias?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 34(1), pages 25-50, February.
  5. Martin, Philippe & Rey, Hélène, 1999. "Financial Integration and Asset Returns," CEPR Discussion Papers 2282, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Heathcote, Jonathan & Perri, Fabrizio, 2004. "Financial globalization and real regionalization," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 119(1), pages 207-243, November.
  7. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen, 2001. "Why Some Firms Export," NBER Working Papers 8349, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. Joshua Aizenman, 1997. "International Portfolio Diversification with Generalized Expected Utility Preferences," NBER Working Papers 5965, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Philip R. Lane & G.M. Milesi-Ferretti, 2003. "International Financial Integration," Trinity Economics Papers 20031, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
  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. Warnock, Francis E., 2002. "Home bias and high turnover reconsidered," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 21(6), pages 795-805, November.
  13. Harry Markowitz, 1952. "Portfolio Selection," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 7(1), pages 77-91, 03.
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  15. Merton, Robert C, 1987. " A Simple Model of Capital Market Equilibrium with Incomplete Information," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 42(3), pages 483-510, July.
  16. Alan G. Ahearne & William L. Griever & Francis E. Warnock, 2000. "Information costs and home bias: an analysis of U.S. holdings of foreign equities," International Finance Discussion Papers 691, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  17. Mark Grinblatt, 2001. "How Distance, Language, and Culture Influence Stockholdings and Trades," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(3), pages 1053-1073, 06.
  18. Wincoop, Eric van, 1994. "Welfare gains from international risksharing," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 175-200, October.
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