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How Constraining Are Limits to Arbitrage? Evidence from a Recent Financial Innovation

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  • Alexander Ljungqvist
  • Wenlan Qian

Abstract

Limits to arbitrage play a central role in behavioral finance. They are thought to interfere with arbitrage processes so that security prices can deviate from true values for extended periods of time. We describe a recent financial innovation that allows limits to arbitrage to be sidestepped, and overvaluation thereby to be corrected, even in settings characterized by extreme costs of information discovery and severe short-sale constraints. We report evidence of shallow-pocketed "arbitrageurs" expending considerable resources to identify overvalued companies and profitably correcting overpricing. The innovation that allows the arbitrageurs to sidestep limits to arbitrage involves credibly revealing their information to the market, in an effort to induce long investors to sell so that prices fall. This simple but apparently effective way around the limits suggests that limits to arbitrage may not always be as constraining as sometimes assumed.

Suggested Citation

  • Alexander Ljungqvist & Wenlan Qian, 2014. "How Constraining Are Limits to Arbitrage? Evidence from a Recent Financial Innovation," NBER Working Papers 19834, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19834
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w19834.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    5. De Long, J Bradford & Andrei Shleifer & Lawrence H. Summers & Robert J. Waldmann, 1990. "Noise Trader Risk in Financial Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(4), pages 703-738, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Carpenter, Jennifer N. & Lu, Fangzhou & Whitelaw, Robert F., 2018. "The real value of China’s stock market," BOFIT Discussion Papers 2/2018, Bank of Finland, Institute for Economies in Transition.
    2. Jennifer N. Carpenter & Fangzhou Lu & Robert F. Whitelaw, 2015. "The Real Value of China's Stock Market," NBER Working Papers 20957, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Carpenter, Jennifer N. & Lu, Fangzhou & Whitelaw, Robert F., 2018. "The real value of China’s stock market," BOFIT Discussion Papers 2, Bank of Finland, Institute for Economies in Transition.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G02 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Behavioral Finance: Underlying Principles
    • 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
    • G23 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors

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