Momentum Cycles and Limits to Arbitrage Evidence from Victorian England and Post-Depression US Stock Markets
We evaluate the importance of "Limits to Arbitrage" to explain profitability of momentum strategies. Specifically, when the availability of arbitrage capital is in short supply, momentum cycles last longer, and breaks in momentum cycles are shorter. We demonstrate the robustness of our findings with a unique database of stock returns from1866-1907 London and the CRSP database. Momentum cycle durations are similar in both databases and all other momentum facts documented in the literature using the CRSP database hold for the Victorian period as well, except for the January reversal due to the absence of capital gains taxation.
We thank Nick Barberis, Jennifer Conrad, Gautam Kaul, Jegadeesh Narasimhan, Lu Zhang, and seminar participants at the University of Michigan for helpful comments. We also thank Soohun Kim for invaluable research assistance. The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.