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A Tough Act to Follow: Contrast Effects In Financial Markets

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  • Samuel M. Hartzmark
  • Kelly Shue

Abstract

A contrast effect occurs when the value of a previously-observed signal inversely biases perception of the next signal. We present the first evidence that contrast effects can distort prices in sophisticated and liquid markets. Investors mistakenly perceive earnings news today as more impressive if yesterday’s earnings surprise was bad and less impressive if yesterday’s surprise was good. A unique advantage of our financial setting is that we can identify contrast effects as an error in perceptions rather than expectations. Finally, we show that our results cannot be explained by a key alternative explanation involving information transmission from previous earnings announcements.

Suggested Citation

  • Samuel M. Hartzmark & Kelly Shue, 2017. "A Tough Act to Follow: Contrast Effects In Financial Markets," NBER Working Papers 23883, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23883
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D9 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • 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
    • G4 - Financial Economics - - Behavioral Finance

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