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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. Philip R. Lane & Gian Milesi-Ferretti, 2003. "International Financial Integration," IMF Working Papers 03/86, International Monetary Fund.
  2. Heathcote, Jonathan & Perri, Fabrizio, 2002. "Financial Globalization and Real Regionalization," CEPR Discussion Papers 3268, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  10. French, Kenneth R & Poterba, James M, 1991. "Investor Diversification and International Equity Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 222-26, May.
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  13. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen, 2004. "Why Some Firms Export," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 561-569, May.
  14. Rowland, Patrick F., 1999. "Transaction costs and international portfolio diversification," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 145-170, October.
  15. Warnock, Francis E., 2002. "Home bias and high turnover reconsidered," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 21(6), pages 795-805, November.
  16. Wincoop, Eric van, 1994. "Welfare gains from international risksharing," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 175-200, October.
  17. 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.
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