Reconsidering Returns

67 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2020 Last revised: 24 Apr 2023

See all articles by Samuel M. Hartzmark

Samuel M. Hartzmark

Boston College - Carroll School of Management

David H. Solomon

Boston College - Carroll School of Management

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 2020

Abstract

Investors' perception of performance is biased because the relevant measure, returns, is rarely displayed. Major indices ignore dividends thereby underreporting market performance. Newspapers are more pessimistic on ex-dividend days, consistent with mistaking the index for returns. Market betas should track returns, but track prices more than dividends, creating predictable returns. Mutual funds receive inflows for “beating the S&P 500,” price index based on net asset value (also not a return). Investors extrapolate market indices, not returns, when forming annual performance expectations. Displaying returns by default would ameliorate these issues, which arise despite high attention and agreement on the appropriate measure.

Suggested Citation

Hartzmark, Samuel M. and Solomon, David H., Reconsidering Returns (June 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w27380, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3632606

Samuel M. Hartzmark (Contact Author)

Boston College - Carroll School of Management ( email )

140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States

David H. Solomon

Boston College - Carroll School of Management ( email )

140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States

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