Competition/fragmentation in equities markets: a literature survey
Moritz Christian Weber
- Advances in technology and several regulatory initiatives have led to the emergence of a competitive but fragmented equity trading landscape in the US and Europe. While these changes have brought about several benefits like reduced transaction costs, regulators and market participants have also raised concerns about the potential adverse effects associated with increased execution complexity and the impact on market quality of new types of venues like dark pools. In this article we review the theoretical and empirical literature examining the economic arguments and motivations underlying market fragmentation, as well as the resulting implications for investors' welfare. We start with the literature that views exchanges as natural monopolies due to presence of network externalities, and then examine studies which challenge this view by focusing on trader heterogeneity and other aspects of the microstructure of equity markets.
Investment in financial literacy, social security and portfolio choice
- We present an intertemporal portfolio choice model where individuals invest in financial literacy, save, allocate their wealth between a safe and a risky asset, and receive a pension when they retire. Financial literacy affects the excess return and the cost of stock market participation. Since literacy depreciates over time and has a cost related to current consumption, investors simultaneously choose how much to save, the portfolio allocation, and the optimal investment in literacy. This last depends on households' resources, its preference parameters and on how much financial literacy affects the returns on risky assets and the stock market participation cost, and the returns on social security wealth. The model implies one should observe a positive correlation between stock market participation (and risky asset share, conditional on participation) and financial literacy, and a negative correlation between the generosity of the social security system and financial literacy. The model also implies that the stock of financial literacy accumulated early in life is positively correlated with the individual's wealth and portfolio allocations later in life. Using microeconomic cross-country data, we find support for these predictions.
Household debt and social interactions
- Debt-induced crises, including the subprime, are usually attributed exclusively to supply-side factors. We examine the role of social influences on debt culture, emanating from perceived average income of peers. Utilizing unique information from a household survey representative of the Dutch population, that circumvents the issue of defining the social circle, we consider collateralized, consumer, and informal loans. We find robust social effects on borrowing, especially among those who consider themselves poorer than their peers; and on indebtedness, suggesting a link to financial distress. We employ a number of approaches to rule out spurious associations and to handle correlated effects.