Trading Off

Kevin Lewis

April 13, 2023

From financial wealth shocks to ill-health: Allostatic load and overload
Declan French
Health Economics, April 2023, Pages 939-952


A number of studies have associated financial wealth changes with health-related outcomes arguing that the effect is due to psychological distress and is immediate. In this paper, I examine this relationship for cumulative shocks to the financial wealth of American retirees using the allostatic load model of pathways from stress to poor health. Wealth shocks are identified from Health and Retirement Study reports of stock ownership along with significant negative discontinuities in high-frequency S&P500 index data. I find that a one standard deviation increase in cumulative shocks over two years increases the probability of elevated blood pressure by 9.5%, increases waist circumference by 1.2% and the cholesterol ratio by 6.1% for those whose wealth is all in shares. My findings suggest that the combined effect of random shocks to financial wealth over time is salient for health outcomes. This is consistent with the allostatic load model in which repeated activation of stress responses leads to cumulative wear and tear on the body.

Does Personal Experience Lead to Better Investment Decisions? Evidence from EDGAR Search Activities in Las Vegas
Ryan Flugum, Choonsik Lee & Matthew E. Souther
University of South Carolina Working Paper, March 2023 


Can firsthand experiences provide valuable information that affects investment decisions? We test this question using a unique dataset containing the stock research activities of patrons of Las Vegas casino hotels. Unsurprisingly, we find that these investors display a strong interest in travel-related stocks. However, their interest in these stocks predicts strong performance; Vegas interest leads to positive abnormal returns up to 3.6% over the following year, and abnormal returns are highest in industries that are related to Las Vegas. These findings are consistent with our conjecture that firsthand experience may lead to better investment decisions.

How to Talk When a Machine Is Listening: Corporate Disclosure in the Age of AI
Sean Cao et al.
Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming 


Growing AI readership (proxied for by machine downloads and ownership by AI-equipped investors) motivates firms to prepare filings friendlier to machine processing and to mitigate linguistic tones that are unfavorably perceived by algorithms. Loughran and McDonald (2011) and BERT available since 2018 serve as event studies supporting attribution of the decrease in the measured negative sentiment to increased machine readership. This relationship is stronger among firms with higher benefits to (e.g., external financing needs) or lower cost (e.g., litigation risk) of sentiment management. This is the first study exploring the feedback effect on corporate disclosure in response to technology.

Four Facts About ESG Beliefs and Investor Portfolios
Stefano Giglio et al.
NBER Working Paper, April 2023 


We analyze survey data on ESG beliefs and preferences in a large panel of retail investors linked to administrative data on their investment portfolios. The survey elicits investors' expectations of long-term ESG equity returns and asks about their motivations, if any, to invest in ESG assets. We document four facts. First, investors generally expected ESG investments to underperform the market. Between mid-2021 and late-2022, the average expected 10-year annualized return of ESG investments relative to the overall stock market was -1.4%. Second, there is substantial heterogeneity across investors in their ESG return expectations and their motives for ESG investing: 45% of survey respondents do not see any reason to invest in ESG, 25% are primarily motivated by ethical considerations, 22% are driven by climate hedging motives, and 7% are motivated by return expectations. Third, there is a link between individuals' reported ESG investment motives and their actual investment behaviors, with the highest ESG portfolio holdings among individuals who report ethics-driven investment motives. Fourth, financial considerations matter independently of other investment motives: we find meaningful ESG holdings only for investors who expect these investments to outperform the market, even among those investors who reported that their most important ESG investment motives were ethical or hedging reasons.

How ETFs Amplify the Global Financial Cycle in Emerging Markets
Nathan Converse, Eduardo Levy-Yeyati & Tomas Williams
Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming 


We study how the growth of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) affects the sensitivity of international capital flows to the global financial cycle. Using comprehensive fund-level data on investor flows, we show that their sensitivity to global financial conditions for equity (bond) ETFs is 2.5 (2.25) times higher than for equity (bond) mutual funds. This higher sensitivity can be directly linked to ETFs underlying shorter-trading-horizon clientele that trades more often in response to shocks. Using country-level data, we find that where ETFs hold a larger share of financial assets, equity inflows and prices become more sensitive to global risk.

The US, Economic News, and the Global Financial Cycle
Christoph Boehm & Niklas Kroner
NBER Working Paper, March 2023 


We provide evidence for a causal link between the US economy and the global financial cycle. Using intraday data, we show that US macroeconomic news releases have large and significant effects on global risky asset prices. Stock price indexes of 27 countries, the VIX, and commodity prices all jump instantaneously upon news releases. The responses of stock indexes co-move across countries and are large -- often comparable in size to the response of the S&P 500. Further, US macroeconomic news explains on average 23 percent of the quarterly variation in foreign stock markets. The joint behavior of stock prices, bond yields, and risk premia suggests that systematic US monetary policy reactions to news do not drive the estimated effects. Instead, the evidence points to a direct effect on investors' risk-taking capacity. Our findings show that a byproduct of the United States' central position in the global financial system is that news about its business cycle has large effects on global financial conditions.

Do Differences in Analyst Quality Matter for Investors Relying on Consensus Information?
Roni Michaely et al.
Management Science, forthcoming 


This study investigates whether investors can reap economic benefits from analyzing differences in analyst quality. Although high-quality analysts' average forecast is more accurate than the consensus forecast for firms with a large analyst following, the benefits of using high-quality analysts' average forecasts are not economically significant. In contrast, the value of analyst quality differentiation exists in the second moment of forecasts. High-quality analysts' forecast dispersion gives investors an advantage in dealing with uncertainty by predicting return volatility and providing opportunities for economically significant returns using option straddle and post-earnings announcement drift investment strategies.


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