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Why Do Foreign Firms Have Less Idiosyncratic Risk than U.S. Firms?

  • Söhnke M. Bartram
  • Gregory Brown
  • René M. Stulz

Using a large panel of firms across the world from 1991-2006, we show that the median foreign firm has lower idiosyncratic risk than a comparable U.S. firm. Country characteristics help explain variation in the level of idiosyncratic risk, but less so than firm characteristics. Idiosyncratic risk falls as government stability and respect for the rule of law improve. Idiosyncratic risk is positively related to stock market development but negatively related to bond market development. Surprisingly, we find that idiosyncratic risk is generally negatively related to corporate disclosure quality. Finally, idiosyncratic risk generally increases with shareholder protection. Though there is evidence that R 2 increases with creditor rights and falls with the quality of disclosure, these results are driven by the relations between these variables and systematic risk rather than by the impact of these variables on idiosyncratic risk.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14931.

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Date of creation: Apr 2009
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Publication status: published as Why Are U.S. Stocks More Volatile? SÖHNKE M. BARTRAM, GREGORY BROWN, RENÉ M. STULZ† Article first published online: 19 JUL 2012 DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-6261.2012.01749.x © 2012 The American Finance Association Issue The Journal of Finance The Journal of Finance Volume 67, Issue 4, pages 1329–1370, August 2012
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14931
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  1. Brown, Gregory & Kapadia, Nishad, 2007. "Firm-specific risk and equity market development," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 358-388, May.
  2. Doidge, Craig & Andrew Karolyi, G. & Stulz, Rene M., 2007. "Why do countries matter so much for corporate governance?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 1-39, October.
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  11. Viral V. Acharya & Yakov Amihud & Lubomir Litov, 2009. "Creditor rights and corporate risk-taking," NBER Working Papers 15569, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Steven Drucker & Manju Puri, 2005. "On the Benefits of Concurrent Lending and Underwriting," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(6), pages 2763-2799, December.
  13. claudio Michelacci & Fabiano Schivardi, 2008. "Does Idiosyncratic Business Risk Matter?," EIEF Working Papers Series 0813, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Jul 2008.
  14. Ozgur S. Ince & R. Burt Porter, 2006. "INDIVIDUAL EQUITY RETURN DATA FROM THOMSON DATASTREAM: HANDLE WITH CARE!," Journal of Financial Research, Southern Finance Association;Southwestern Finance Association, vol. 29(4), pages 463-479.
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