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

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

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Söhnke M. Bartram & Gregory Brown & René M. Stulz, 2009. "Why Do Foreign Firms Have Less Idiosyncratic Risk than U.S. Firms?," NBER Working Papers 14931, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14931
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Wilkening, Tom, 2016. "Information and the persistence of private-order contract enforcement institutions: An experimental analysis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 193-215.
    3. Rajgopal, Shiva & Venkatachalam, Mohan, 2011. "Financial reporting quality and idiosyncratic return volatility," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 1-20.
    4. Fiorella De Fiore & Harald Uhlig, 2011. "Bank Finance versus Bond Finance," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 43(7), pages 1399-1421, October.
    5. Bekaert, Geert & Hodrick, Robert J. & Zhang, Xiaoyan, 2012. "Aggregate Idiosyncratic Volatility," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(06), pages 1155-1185, December.
    6. Arnold, Marc, 2014. "Managerial cash use, default, and corporate financial policies," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 305-325.
    7. Rossi, Francesco, 2012. "UK cross-sectional equity data: The case for robust investability filters," European Economic Letters, European Economics Letters Group, vol. 1(1), pages 6-13.
    8. Cotter, John & Sullivan, Niall O' & Rossi, Francesco, 2015. "The conditional pricing of systematic and idiosyncratic risk in the UK equity market," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 184-193.
    9. Rajgopal, Shiva & Venkatachalam, Mohan, 2011. "Financial reporting quality and idiosyncratic return volatility," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1-2), pages 1-20, February.
    10. De Moor, Lieven & Sercu, Piet, 2011. "Country versus sector factors in equity returns: The roles of non-unit exposures," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 64-77, January.
    11. Kaniel, Ron & Ozoguz, Arzu & Starks, Laura, 2012. "The high volume return premium: Cross-country evidence," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(2), pages 255-279.
    12. Nguyen, Nhut H. & Truong, Cameron, 2013. "The information content of stock markets around the world: A cultural explanation," Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, Elsevier, vol. 26(C), pages 1-29.
    13. Graham, Michael & Peltomäki, Jarkko & Piljak, Vanja, 2016. "Global economic activity as an explicator of emerging market equity returns," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 424-435.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading
    • G15 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - International Financial Markets
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill

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