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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
Date of revision:
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. 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.
  2. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth Rogoff, 2001. "The Six Major Puzzles in International Macroeconomics: Is There a Common Cause?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2000, Volume 15, pages 339-412 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  8. Jonathan Heathcote & Fabrizio Perri, 2001. "Financial Globalization and Real Regionalization," Working Papers 01-11, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  9. Rowland, Patrick F., 1999. "Transaction costs and international portfolio diversification," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 145-170, October.
  10. 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.).
  11. 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.
  12. Patrick F. Rowland & Linda L. Tesar, 1998. "Multinationals and the Gains from International Diversification," NBER Working Papers 6733, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. 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.
  14. Francis E. Warnock, 2001. "Home bias and high turnover reconsidered," International Finance Discussion Papers 702, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  15. Philip R. Lane & G.M. Milesi-Ferretti, 2003. "International Financial Integration," Trinity Economics Papers 20031, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
  16. Harry Markowitz, 1952. "Portfolio Selection," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 7(1), pages 77-91, 03.
  17. 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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