Speculative Betas

84 Pages Posted: 3 Dec 2011 Last revised: 21 Nov 2015

See all articles by Harrison G. Hong

Harrison G. Hong

Columbia University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

David Alexandre Sraer

Princeton University; University of California, Berkeley

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 15, 2015


The risk and return trade-off, the cornerstone of modern asset pricing theory, is often of the wrong sign. Our explanation is that high beta assets are more prone to speculative overpricing than low beta ones. When investors disagree about the prospects of the stock market, high beta assets are more sensitive to this aggregate disagreement and experience a greater divergence of opinion about their payoffs. These assets experience speculative demand from optimistic investors. Short-sales constraints then result in these high beta assets being over-priced. When aggregate disagreement is high, expected returns can actually decrease with beta, especially for stocks with low idiosyncratic variance and hence where the cost of taking speculative positions is smaller. We confirm our theory using a measure of disagreement about stock market earnings.

Suggested Citation

Hong, Harrison G. and Sraer, David Alexandre and Sraer, David Alexandre, Speculative Betas (June 15, 2015). Journal of Finance, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1967462 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1967462

Harrison G. Hong (Contact Author)

Columbia University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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David Alexandre Sraer

Princeton University ( email )

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University of California, Berkeley ( email )

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