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Nickels versus Black Swans: Reputation, Trading Strategies and Asset Prices

  • Steven Malliaris
  • Hongjun Yan

This paper analyzes a model of fund managers' reputation concerns. It explains why "Nickel strategies" (strategies that earn small positive returns most of the time but occasionally lead to dramatic losses) are more popular among managers than the opposite "Black Swan strategies," (strategies that generate small losses most of the time but occasionally lead to large profits). A novel insight from the model is the fragile nature of the economy with reputation concerns: The interaction between managers' reputation concern and investors' perception of managers' strategy choices may lead to multiple self-fulfilling equilibria. When the economy is in one equilibrium, managers have no incentive to change their strategies unless investors change their perceptions, and vice versa. This coordination problem implies slow-moving capital and may leave profitable opportunities unexploited for an extended period of time. Once the coordination problem is broken, however, the economy switches to the other equilibrium, leading to drastic capital relocation and price movements in the absence of news on fundamentals. This model sheds light on a number of stylized facts documented in the literature and also provides some new testable implications.

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File URL: http://icfpub.som.yale.edu/publications/2380
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Paper provided by Yale School of Management in its series Yale School of Management Working Papers with number amz2380.

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Date of creation: 01 Oct 2008
Date of revision: 01 Mar 2009
Handle: RePEc:ysm:somwrk:amz2380
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://icf.som.yale.edu/

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  1. Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1995. "The Limits of Arbitrage," NBER Working Papers 5167, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  10. Stein, Jeremy & Aghion, Philippe, 2008. "Growth Versus Margins: Destabilizing Consequences of Giving the Stock Market What it Wants," Scholarly Articles 3660730, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  11. William K.H. Fung & David A. Hsieh, 2006. "Hedge funds: an industry in its adolescence," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Q 4, pages 1-34.
  12. Mark Mitchell, 2001. "Characteristics of Risk and Return in Risk Arbitrage," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(6), pages 2135-2175, December.
  13. Markus K. Brunnermeier & Stefan Nagel & Lasse H. Pedersen, 2009. "Carry Trades and Currency Crashes," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2008, Volume 23, pages 313-347 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Basak, Suleyman & Shapiro, Alex & Teplá, Lucie, 2005. "Risk Management with Benchmarking," CEPR Discussion Papers 5187, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Stephen J. Brown, 2001. "Careers and Survival: Competition and Risk in the Hedge Fund and CTA Industry," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(5), pages 1869-1886, October.
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