Trading Is Hazardous to Your Wealth: The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors


  • Brad M. Barber,

  • Terrance Odean

  • Graduate School of Management, University of California, Davis. We are grateful to the discount brokerage firm that provided us with the data for this study. We appreciate the comments of Christopher Barry, George Bittlingmayer, Eugene Fama, Ken French, Laurie Krigman, Bing Liang, John Nofsinger, Srinivasan Rangan, Mark Rubinstein, René Stulz (the editor), Avanidhar Subrahmanyam, Kent Womack, Jason Zweig, two anonymous reviewers, seminar participants at the American Finance Association Meetings (New York, 1999), the 9th Annual Conference on Financial Economics and Accountancy at New York University, Notre Dame University, the University of Illinois, and participants in the Compuserve Investor Forum. All errors are our own.


Individual investors who hold common stocks directly pay a tremendous performance penalty for active trading. Of 66,465 households with accounts at a large discount broker during 1991 to 1996, those that trade most earn an annual return of 11.4 percent, while the market returns 17.9 percent. The average household earns an annual return of 16.4 percent, tilts its common stock investment toward high-beta, small, value stocks, and turns over 75 percent of its portfolio annually. Overconfidence can explain high trading levels and the resulting poor performance of individual investors. Our central message is that trading is hazardous to your wealth.