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Learning-Induced Securities Price Volatility


  • Peter Bossaerts


This paper tests whether the high average returns on the S&P 500 index in recent history can be attributed to mistaken expectations (the ex-ante risk premium -- taken to be constant -- is systematically less than the ex-post measured risk premium), or, alternatively, whether can they be explained as the result of selection bias (the U.S. experience is exceptional). The tests reject these hypotheses over the periods 1/81 to 12/97 (p = 0.02), and 1/41-12/60 (p = 0.03). They do not reject over the periods 1/28-12/40 and 1/61-12/80. The tests are based on a bound that the ex-post Sharpe ratios impose on the volatility of the ratio of the market's prior and posterior beliefs about future outcomes. The bound derives from a property of Bayesian learning first noted in an earlier paper. Qualitatively, for the bound not to be violated, higher absolute mean excess returns may need to be accompanied with higher volatility. This should be interpreted as predicting that large price movements (positive as well as negative) may have to be erratic. We confirm this prediction for the S&P 500 data.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Bossaerts, 2000. "Learning-Induced Securities Price Volatility," Computing in Economics and Finance 2000 299, Society for Computational Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sce:scecf0:299

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    Cited by:

    1. Larry G. Epstein & Martin Schneider, 2007. "Learning Under Ambiguity," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(4), pages 1275-1303.
    2. Massa, Massimo & Simonov, Andrei, 2005. "Is learning a dimension of risk?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(10), pages 2605-2632, October.
    3. Larry G. Epstein & Martin Schneider, 2008. "Ambiguity, Information Quality, and Asset Pricing," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 63(1), pages 197-228, February.
    4. Consiglio, Andrea & Russino, Annalisa, 2007. "How does learning affect market liquidity? A simulation analysis of a double-auction financial market with portfolio traders," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 1910-1937, June.

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