I document a hidden but substantial cost associated with the liquidity transformation that corporate bond exchange-traded funds (ETFs) provide. When creating new shares, authorized participants (APs) deliver a subset of the portfolio of bonds that underlie a corporate bond ETF. This subset contains bonds that realize low future returns, reducing ETF performance by 48 basis points per annum. This loss in performance cannot be attributed to forgone compensation for risk or illiquidity, but instead results from APs utilizing information regarding future changes in net asset values to strategically deliver bonds when those bonds are expected to realize poor performance in the near future.
We provide the most comprehensive study of market participation to date. Our examination reveals the informativeness of 9 different participants’ trades, and how each participant’s trades relate to 130 different variables that together reflect the cross-section of expected stock returns. Firms and short sellers tend to be the smart money—both sell stocks with low expected returns, and their trades predict returns in the intended direction. Firms, however, seem to possess private information, while short sellers do not. Retail investors buy (sell) stocks with low (high) expected returns and their trades predict returns opposite to the intended direction. All 6 types of institutional investors are weighted towards stocks with low expected returns, but none of their trades robustly predict returns.
Retail Investors and Analysts
with David McLean and Jeff Pontiff
In this paper we ask whether retail investors are responsive to analysts’ revisions. We consider revisions in recommendations, price targets, and EPS forecasts, all of which predict returns. Revisions in recommendations and price targets portend greater retail trading in the direction of the revision. The effects are stronger for All-Star Analysts’ revisions, and retail investors also respond to All-Star’s revisions in EPS forecasts. Retail investors trade in anticipation of revisions in price targets and recommendations, consistent with analysts or brokers “tipping” some retail investors. Large increases in retail trading are more profitable when they follow an analysts’ revision. The results show that retail investors are one channel through which analysts’ information gets into prices. Our findings also support the idea that spikes in retail trading reflect informed trading, some of which is informed by analysts.
Works in Progress
Who Prices Anomalies? A Demand Based Estimation
Preliminary project utilizing the methodology of Koijen and Yogo (2019) to estimate the impact of various investors on cross-sectional return predictability.