NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Wall Street vs. Main Street: An Evaluation of Probabilities

Robin L. Lumsdaine, Rogier J.D. Potter van Loon

NBER Working Paper No. 19103
Issued in June 2013
NBER Program(s):   AG   AP   ED   IFM

This paper challenges recent conventional wisdom of a divide between Main Street (the average American consumer) and Wall Street (financial market participants). The views of survey respondents regarding the likelihood of stock index returns exceeding specific thresholds are compared to market views indicated by index options with strikes at analogous thresholds. The econometric specification explicitly addresses some important impediments to using elicited probabilities from survey data. We confirm that Main Street views track Wall Street views, although the association is not one-for one. We find a closer association for those demonstrating a better understanding of the laws of probability.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19103

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