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ABSTRACT

An individual who chooses to serve as a market-maker is assumed to optimize his position by setting a bid-ask spread which maximizes the difference between expected revenues received from liquidity-motivated traders and expected losses to information-motivated traders. By characterizing the cost of supplying quotes, as writing a put and a call option to an information-motivated trader, it is shown that the bid-ask spread is a positive function of the price level and return variance, a negative function of measures of market activity, depth, and continuity, and negatively correlated with the degree of competition. Thus, the theory of information effects on the bid-ask spread proposed in this paper is consistent with the empirical literature.