The Aggregate Behaviour of Individual Investors
52 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2004
Date Written: July 29, 2003
Behavioural models generally require that the investment decisions of irrational investors aggregate in a systematic way. Using a unique Australian dataset of individual investor trades I investigate the plausibility of this assumption. I find that aggregate individual investor trades do indeed exhibit strong systematic patterns, including negative feedback trading and substantial persistence. In addition the weekly cross-sectional net trades of a large number of independent retail brokerage firms are contemporaneously correlated to a remarkable extent. Thus the aggregation assumption appears plausible.
However I do not find that the net trades of retail investors consistently predict future returns in a negative fashion. In fact over the period 1991-2002, the net trades of full-service brokerage clients actually positively forecast future short-term market and cross-sectional returns. While small investors do act in a highly systematic fashion, their actions may not, at least in the short run, be classed as irrational.
Keywords: Individual Investors, Small Investors
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