On the impact of leverage constraints on asset prices and trading volume
Researchers have used stylized facts on asset prices and trading volume in stock markets (in particular, the mean reversion of asset returns and the correlations between trading volume, price changes and price levels) to support theories where agents are not rational expected utility maximizers. This paper shows that this empirical evidence is in fact consistent with a standard infite horizon –perfect information– expected utility economy where some agents face leverage constraints similar to those found in todays financial markets. In addition, and in sharp contrast to the theories above, we explain some qualitative differences that are observed in the price-volume relation on stock and on futures markets. We consider a continuous-time economy where agents maximize the integral of their discounted utility from consumption under both budget and leverage con-straints. Building on the work by Vila and Zariphopoulou (1997), we find a closed form solution, up to a negative constant, for the equilibrium prices and demands in the region of the state space where the constraint is non-binding. We show that, at the equilibrium, stock holdings volatility as well as its ratio to stock price volatility are increasing functions of the stock price and interpret this finding in terms of the price-volume relation.
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