Academic Papers

Do investors trade too much? A laboratory experiment

We run experimental asset markets to investigate the emergence of excess trading and the occurrence of synchronised trading activity leading to crashes in the artificial markets. The market environment favours early investment in the risky asset and no posterior trading, i.e. a buy-and-hold strategy with a most probable return of over 600%. We observe that subjects trade too much, and due to the market impact that we explicitly implement, this is detrimental to their wealth. The asset market experiment was followed by risk aversion measurement. We find that preference for risk systematically leads to higher activity rates (and lower final wealth). We also measure subjects’ expectations of future prices and find that their actions are fully consistent with their expectations. In particular, trading subjects try to beat the market and make profits by playing a buy low, sell high strategy. Finally, we have not detected any major market crash driven by collective panic modes, but rather a weaker but significant tendency of traders to synchronise their entry and exit points in the market.