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Asset Price Bubbles and Crashes with Near-Zero-Intelligence Traders: Towards an Understanding of Laboratory Findings

  • John Duffy

    (University of Pittsburgh)

  • M. Utku Unver

    (Harvard University and Koc University)

We examine whether a simple agent--based model can generate asset price bubbles and crashes of the type observed in a series of laboratory asset market experiments beginning with the work of Smith, Suchanek and Williams (1988). We follow the methodology of Gode and Sunder (1993, 1997) and examine the outcomes that obtain when populations of zero-- intelligence (ZI) budget constrained, artificial agents are placed in the various laboratory market environments that have given rise to price bubbles. We have to put more structure on the behavior of the ZI-agents in order to address features of the laboratory asset bubble environment. We show that our model of "near--zero--intelligence" traders, operating in the same double auction environments used in several different laboratory studies, generates asset price bubbles and crashes comparable to those observed in laboratory experiments and can also match other, more subtle features of the experimental data.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Computational Economics with number 0307001.

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Date of creation: 01 Jul 2003
Date of revision: 17 Mar 2004
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpco:0307001
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  1. Tirole, Jean, 1985. "Asset Bubbles and Overlapping Generations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(6), pages 1499-1528, November.
  2. Gode, Dhananjay K & Sunder, Shyam, 1997. "What Makes Markets Allocationally Efficient?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 603-30, May.
  3. Blanchard, Olivier Jean, 1979. "Speculative bubbles, crashes and rational expectations," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 387-389.
  4. Leigh Tesfatsion, 2002. "Agent-Based Computational Economics," Computational Economics 0203001, EconWPA, revised 15 Aug 2002.
  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 703-38, August.
  6. David Genesove & Christopher Mayer, 2001. "Loss Aversion and Seller Behavior: Evidence from the Housing Market," NBER Working Papers 8143, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Diba, Behzad T & Grossman, Herschel I, 1987. "On the Inception of Rational Bubbles," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(3), pages 697-700, August.
  8. Duffy, John, 2001. "Learning to speculate: Experiments with artificial and real agents," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 25(3-4), pages 295-319, March.
  9. Charles Noussair & Stephane Robin & Bernard Ruffieux, 2001. "Price Bubbles in Laboratory Asset Markets with Constant Fundamental Values," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 87-105, June.
  10. Van Boening, Mark V. & Williams, Arlington W. & LaMaster, Shawn, 1993. "Price bubbles and crashes in experimental call markets," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 179-185.
  11. Lei, V. & Noussair, C. & Plott, C.R., 1998. "Non-Speculative Bubbles in Experimental Asset Markets: Lack of Common Knowledge of Rationality Vs. Actual Irrationality," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1120, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  12. Froot, Kenneth A & Obstfeld, Maurice, 1991. "Intrinsic Bubbles: The Case of Stock Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1189-214, December.
  13. Leigh Tesfatsion & Mark Pingle, 2003. "Evolution of Worker-Employer Networks and Behaviors Under Alternative Non-Employment Benefits: An Agent-Based Computational Study," Computing in Economics and Finance 2003 7, Society for Computational Economics.
  14. Porter, David P & Smith, Vernon L, 1995. "Futures Contracting and Dividend Uncertainty in Experimental Asset Markets," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 68(4), pages 509-41, October.
  15. Gode, Dhananjay K & Sunder, Shyam, 1993. "Allocative Efficiency of Markets with Zero-Intelligence Traders: Market as a Partial Substitute for Individual Rationality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(1), pages 119-37, February.
  16. Mark van Boening & Vernon L. Smith & Charissa P. Wellford, 2000. "Dividend timing and behavior in laboratory asset markets," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 567-583.
  17. Noussair, C. & Robin, S. & Ruffieux, B., 1998. "Bubbles and Anti-Crashes in Laboratory Asset Markets with Constant Fundamental Values," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1119, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  18. Paul Brewer & Maria Huang & Brad Nelson & Charles Plott, 2002. "On the Behavioral Foundations of the Law of Supply and Demand: Human Convergence and Robot Randomness," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 5(3), pages 179-208, December.
  19. Smith, Vernon L & Suchanek, Gerry L & Williams, Arlington W, 1988. "Bubbles, Crashes, and Endogenous Expectations in Experimental Spot Asset Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(5), pages 1119-51, September.
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