Are the Gains from Foreign Diversification Diminishing? Assessing the Impact with Cross-listed Stocks

Karen K. Lewis, Sandy Lai

NBER Working Paper No. 18627
Issued in December 2012
NBER Program(s):   AP   IFM

How important is foreign diversification? In this paper, we re-examine this question motivated by findings from the literature about foreign companies that are listed on US exchanges. Specifically, domestic portfolios including cross-listed stocks can provide the same diversification as foreign market returns without the need for US investors to go abroad. At the same time, the betas of these foreign stock returns against the US market increase after cross-listing, suggesting diversification worsens over time. In this paper, we assess the impact of these changes on foreign diversification for a US investor. We test for and estimate breaks in the sensitivity of individual foreign stocks listed on US exchanges. We find that roughly half of the changes in betas arise from greater integration between the U.S. and the companies' home markets, not in the companies betas themselves. Moreover, the gains from diversifying into these stocks has declined over time.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w18627

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