The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors
47 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 1998
Date Written: May 1998
Using account data for over 60,000 households from a large discount brokerage firm, we analyze the common stock investment performance of individual investors from February 1991 through December 1996. The average household tilts their common stock investment toward high-beta, small, value stocks, and turns over 80 per cent of their portfolio annually. On one hand, the gross returns (before accounting for transaction costs) earned by the average household are unremarkable; the average household earned an annualized geometric mean gross return of 17.7 per cent while the value-weighted market index earned 17.1 per cent. On the other hand, the net returns earned by the average household lag reasonable benchmarks by economically and statistically significant amounts; the average household earned an annualized geometric mean net return of 15.3 per cent. The 20 per cent of households that trade most (which average at least 9.6 per cent turnover per month) earned an annualized geometric mean net return of 10.0 per cent. The poor performance of those households that trade frequently is generally consistent with the implications of recent theoretical models of investor overconfidence. Our central message is that trading is hazardous to your wealth.
JEL Classification: G12, G14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation