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Stock Price Expectations and Stock Trading

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  • Michael D. Hurd
  • Susann Rohwedder

Abstract

Background: The fact that many individuals inexplicably fail to buy stocks, despite the historical evidence for a good return on investment has been referred to as the stock market puzzle. However, measurements of the subjective probability of a gain show that people are more pessimistic than historical outcomes would suggest. Further, expectations of future stock price increases apparently depend on old information, which would seem to be at odds with rational expectations in the context of efficient markets. To shed light on these apparent paradoxes, we analyzed the relationships between actual stock market price changes and the subjective probability of price changes, and between the subjective probability of price changes and the likelihood of engaging in stock trading. Approach: Drawing on 31 waves of longitudinal data on investment behavior from the American Life Panel surveys from November 2008 to the present, we tracked high frequency changes in expectations at the individual level and related them to high frequency changes in stock market prices. We analyzed both individuals who held stock in retirement accounts and those who held stocks outside of these accounts. Results: Changes in the subjective probability for one-year and 10-year gains in stock prices correlated with the Standard and Poor 500 Index with lags ranging from changes during the most recent week to changes more than a month before. This relationship was stronger among those who professed to follow the stock market and to have good knowledge than among those whose understanding is poor. Among individuals who held stock outside of retirement accounts, the likelihood of buying and selling stock was more strongly associated with recent stock behavior than among those who held stocks only within retirement accounts. Conclusions: On average, subjective expectations of stock market behavior depend on stock price changes. Furthermore, stock trading responds to changes in expectations even when the change in expectations was several weeks before the trade. These results suggest that expectations and trading are related to stock price changes in an intertemporally complex manner. Our findings also confirm that expectations about stock market gains are pessimistic, which would imply that many people simply view savings accounts as a better investment. We conclude that we need a better understanding of expectation formation and how those expectations are translated into choice.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael D. Hurd & Susann Rohwedder, 2012. "Stock Price Expectations and Stock Trading," NBER Working Papers 17973, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17973
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jeff Dominitz & Charles F. Manski, 2011. "Measuring and interpreting expectations of equity returns," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(3), pages 352-370, April.
    2. Michael Hurd & Maarten Van Rooij & Joachim Winter, 2011. "Stock market expectations of Dutch households," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(3), pages 416-436, April.
    3. Jeff Dominitz & Charles F. Manski, 2007. "Expected Equity Returns and Portfolio Choice: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(2-3), pages 369-379, 04-05.
    4. Haliassos, Michael & Bertaut, Carol C, 1995. "Why Do So Few Hold Stocks?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(432), pages 1110-1129, September.
    5. Gábor Kézdi & Robert J. Willis, 2011. "Household Stock Market Beliefs and Learning," NBER Working Papers 17614, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Péter Hudomiet & Gábor Kézdi & Robert J. Willis, 2011. "Stock market crash and expectations of American households," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(3), pages 393-415, April.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Binswanger, Johannes & Salm, Martin, 2013. "Does Everyone Use Probabilities? Intuitive and Rational Decisions about Stockholding," IZA Discussion Papers 7265, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 2015. "Money Doctors," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 70(1), pages 91-114, February.
      • Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, "undated". "Money Doctors," Working Paper 69721, Harvard University OpenScholar.
      • Gennaioli, Nicola & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W., 2014. "Money Doctors," Scholarly Articles 12965657, Harvard University Department of Economics.
      • Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 2012. "Money Doctors," NBER Working Papers 18174, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
      • Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 2012. "Money Doctors," Working Papers 464, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
      • Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, "undated". "Money Doctors," Working Paper 228501, Harvard University OpenScholar.
      • Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 2012. "Money doctors," Economics Working Papers 1355, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    3. Steffen Huck & Tobias Schmidt & Georg Weizsäcker, 2014. "The Standard Portfolio Choice Problem in Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 650, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    4. Thomas Bridges & Frank Stafford, 2012. "At the Corner of Main and Wall Street: Family Pension Responses to Liquidity Change and Perceived Returns," Working Papers wp282, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    5. Drerup, Tilman & Enke, Benjamin & von Gaudecker, Hans-Martin, 2014. "Measurement Error in Subjective Expectation and the Empirical Content of Economic Models," MEA discussion paper series 201414, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
    6. Stefanescu, Razvan & Dumitriu, Ramona, 2016. "Particularitǎţi ale evoluţiei variabilelor financiare
      [Some particularities of the financial variables evolution]
      ," MPRA Paper 73481, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 02 Sep 2016.
    7. Andrew Caplin, 2017. "Comment on "Survey Measurement of Probabilistic Economic Expectations: Progress and Promise"," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2017, volume 32 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Marco Angrisani & Michael D. Hurd & Erik Meijer, 2012. "Investment Decisions in Retirement: The Role of Subjective Expectations," Working Papers wp274, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    9. repec:eee:eecrev:v:98:y:2017:i:c:p:73-85 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions

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