Why Effective Spreads on Nasdaq Were Higher than on the New York Stock Exchange in the 1990s
George J. Benston
Emory University - Department of Accounting
University of Memphis - Fogelman College of Business and Economics
Journal of Empirical Finance, Forthcoming
Two hypotheses have been advanced to explain why spreads on NASDAQ were substantially higher than those on the NYSE in the 1990s: "collusion" and "preferencing and payment for order flow". We present data on all actively traded stocks in these markets of relative effective spreads (RES), aggregated monthly over 1987-1999 and advance a third hypothesis: NASDAQ "SOES-day-trading". We estimate NASDAQ and NYSE informed-trade losses and gains to market makers and other liquidity providers on six trade sizes, and find that losses on trades we ascribe to SOES day traders were substantially greater than those on other trades, offset somewhat by gains from small-trade-size investors. NASDAQ market makers' response to these losses and additional operations costs incurred to reduce the losses resulted in greater RES and increased trading within the best quotes, predominantly on larger trade sizes. The data are consistent with the "SOES-day-trading" hypotheses, but not with the other two. Furthermore, the mandatory SOES "experiment" provides insights into the negative effects of automated trading systems (such as ECNs, which now dominate NASDAQ) when their design does not adequately consider opportunistic traders.
Keywords: Market microstructure, NASDAQ, NYSE, bid-ask spreads, odd-eighth avoidance
JEL Classification: G14, G18, L12, L22, G12, G18, D23, D82, D83
Date posted: October 22, 2006
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