NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Asset Fire Sales (and Purchases) in Equity Markets

Joshua D. Coval, Erik Stafford

NBER Working Paper No. 11357
Issued in May 2005
NBER Program(s):   AP

This paper examines asset fire sales, and institutional price pressure more generally, in equity markets, using market prices of mutual fund transactions caused by capital flows from 1980 to 2003. Funds experiencing large outflows (inflows) tend to decrease (increase) existing positions, which creates price pressure in the securities held in common by these funds. Forced transactions represent a significant cost of financial distress for mutual funds. We find that investors who trade against constrained mutual funds earn highly significant returns for providing liquidity when few others are willing or able. In addition, future flow-driven transactions are predictable, creating an incentive to front-run the anticipated forced trades by funds experiencing extreme capital flows.

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Published: Coval, Joshua & Stafford, Erik, 2007. "Asset fire sales (and purchases) in equity markets," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 479-512, November.

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