The Limits of Arbitrage
27 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2000 Last revised: 1 Sep 2010
Date Written: July 1995
In traditional models, arbitrage in a given security is performed by a large number of diversified investors taking small positions against its mispricing. In reality, however, arbitrage is conducted by a relatively small number of highly specialized investors who take large positions using other people's money. Such professional arbitrage has a number of interesting implications for security pricing, including the possibility that arbitrage becomes ineffective in extreme circumstances, when prices diverge far from fundamental values. The model also suggests where anomalies in financial markets are likely to appear, and why arbitrage fails to eliminate them.
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By Meb Faber