Investor bias, risk and price volatility


JOURNAL OF ECONOMIC STUDIES, vol.50, no.7, pp.1317-1335, 2023 (ESCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 50 Issue: 7
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1108/jes-04-2022-0211
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, IBZ Online, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, Periodicals Index Online, ABI/INFORM, Business Source Elite, Business Source Premier, EconLit, Public Affairs Index
  • Page Numbers: pp.1317-1335
  • Keywords: Systemic risk, Salience bias, Price volatility, Financial crisis, Fragility, D90, G01, G11, G12, G40, SENTIMENT, SALIENCE
  • Abdullah Gül University Affiliated: Yes


PurposeThis study proposes a framework based on salience theory and shows that focusing on one type of risk (idiosyncratic or systemic) can explain overpricing of securities ex ante, and resales at low prices during crisis periods.Design/methodology/approachThe author consider an overlapping generations (OLG) model where each generation lives for two periods and there is no population growth. Agents (investors) start their lives with an endowment W > 0 and have mean-variance utility. They invest their endowment when young and consume when old. Each period, the young investors optimally choose their portfolio from different risky assets acquired from the old generation, all assumed to be in fixed supply.FindingsThe author show that investor salience bias can explain excess volatility of asset prices and the resulting fire-sales in periods of financial turmoil. A change in salience - from one component (idiosyncratic) to the other (systemic) - will generate excess volatility. Interestingly, higher risk aversion generally exacerbates the excess volatility of prices. Moreover, the model predicts that if a big systemic shock hits the financial system, due to salience bias the price of systemic assets falls sharply. This relates to the observed fire-sales of assets during the global financial crisis.Practical implicationsThe proposed model and results suggest that there may be a scope for intervention in financial markets during turbulences. In terms of ex ante policies the study suggests that investors and regulator should use better risk assessment technologies.Originality/valueThis is the first study constructing a tractable model based on the argument that investor salience may exacerbate the excess volatility of prices during financial downturns. The author relate salience to two types of risk; idiosyncratic and systemic and assume that investors' risk perception is biased towards the type of risk that is currently salient based on prior beliefs or past data. The author show that the diversification fallacy of the precrisis period, where seemingly safe assets were overpriced, can be explained by agents overweighing idiosyncratic risk and ignoring systemic risk.