NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Nonrational Actors and Financial Market Behavior

Richard Zeckhauser, Jayendu Patel, Darryll Hendricks

NBER Working Paper No. 3731
Issued in June 1991
NBER Program(s):   ME

The insights of descriptive decision theorists and psychologists, we believe, have much to contribute to our understanding of financial market macrophenomena. We propose an analytic agenda that distinguishes those individual idiosyncrasies that prove consequential at the macro-level from those that are neutralized by market processes such as poaching. We discuss five behavioral traits - barn-door closing, expert/reliance effects, status quo bias, framing, and herding - that we employ in explaining financial flows. Patterns in flows to mutual funds, to new equities, across national boundaries, as well as movements in debt-equity ratios are shown to be consistent with deviations from rationality.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w3731

Published: Theory and Decision, vol 31, 1991, pp 257-287

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