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Shareholder Trading Practices and Corporate Investment Horizons

  • Kenneth A. Froot
  • Andre F. Perold
  • Jeremy C. Stein

We investigate how shareholder trading practices might be linked to corporate investment horizons. We examine two possible linkages and analyze a range of data relevant to them. The first is excess volatility, which occurs when stock prices react not only to news about economic fundamentals, but also to trades based on non-fundamental factors. Excess volatility could lead to a higher cost of capital, and thereby reduce long-term corporate investment. The second linkage derives from an information ea between management and outside shareholders. In the presence of such a gap, maximizing short-run and long-run stock prices are not the same thing. Management may be able to raise current stock prices by undertaking certain actions that will reduce long-run value. In such a case, management faces the dilemma of which shareholders to please: those who do not plan to hold the stock for the long-run versus those who do. As shareholder horizons shorten, it can become more difficult to focus exclusively on maximizing long-run value. With respect to excess volatility, our basic conclusions are that neither changes in trading practices over time nor differences in trading practices across countries contribute significantly to any underinvestment problem. There is no evidence to indicate that measures to reduce trading volume (such as transactions taxes) would lower stock-price volatility in a way that would stimulate investment. With respect to the information gap hypothesis, we find "circumstantial' evidence consistent with certain preconditions for underinvestment. This is not, however, evidence of underinvestment itself. In addition, many of the forces that can lead to underinvestment -- such as hostile takeovers -- are also related to other, positive aspects of economic performance. Policy responses therefore involve a difficult set of tradeoffs.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w3638.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3638.

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Date of creation: Feb 1991
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Volume 5, pp. 42-58 Summer 1992
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3638
Note: ITI ME IFM
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Kenneth A. Froot & David S. Scharfstein & Jeremy C. Stein, 1990. "Herd on the Street: Informational Inefficiencies in a Market with Short-Term Speculation," NBER Working Papers 3250, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. De Long, J. Bradford & Shleifer, Andrei & Summers, Lawrence H. & Waldmann, Robert J., 1990. "Noise Trader Risk in Financial Markets," Scholarly Articles 3725552, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Cutler, David M & Poterba, James M & Summers, Lawrence H, 1990. "Speculative Dynamics and the Role of Feedback Traders," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 63-68, May.
  4. Brennan, Michael J, 1990. " Latent Assets," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 45(3), pages 709-30, July.
  5. Kenneth A. Froot & Andre F. Perold, 1990. "New Trading Practices and Short-run Market Efficiency," NBER Working Papers 3498, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. James M. Poterba & Lawrence H. Summers, 1987. "Mean Reversion in Stock Prices: Evidence and Implications," NBER Working Papers 2343, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Kaplan, Steven, 1989. "The effects of management buyouts on operating performance and value," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 217-254.
  8. Karl E. Case & Robert J. Shiller, 1988. "The Efficiency of the Market for Single-Family Homes," NBER Working Papers 2506, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Kenneth A. Froot, 1990. "Short Rates and Expected Asset Returns," NBER Working Papers 3247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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