The Effect of Sequential Information Arrival on Asset Prices: An Experimental Study




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    • University of California, Los Angeles and University of California, Santa Cruz, respectively. Our thanks to Heikki Ketola for programming assistance, to the National Science Foundation for financial support, and to Peter Carr, our research assistant.


A complete understanding of security markets requires a simultaneous explanation of price behavior, trading volume, portfolio composition (ie., asset allocation), and bid-ask spreads. In this paper, these variables are observed in a controlled setting—a computerized double auction market, similar to NASDAQ. Our laboratory allows experimental control of information arrival—whether simultaneously or sequentially received, and whether homogeneous or heterogeneous. We compare the price, volume, and share allocations of three market equilibrium models: telepathic rational expectations, which assumes that traders can read each others minds (strong-form market efficiency); ordinary rational expectations, which assumes traders can use (some) market price information, (a type of semi-strong form efficiency); and private information, where traders use no market information. We conclude 1) that stronger-form market models predict equilibrium prices better than weaker-form models, 2) that there were fewer misallocation forecasts in simultaneous information arrival (SIM) environments, 3) that trading volume was significantly higher in SIM environments, 4) and that bid-ask spreads widen significantly when traders are exposed to price uncertainty resulting from information heterogeneity.