Three essays on market frictions and prices
During the last decade there have been significant changes in market structure as well as in the regulatory framework. New regulations require firms to disclose more information in a timely manner. Simultaneously, quantum improvements in computer networks have increased the speed of information flows and facilitated explosive growth in trading volume. In light of such changes, I examine three important questions regarding how security pricing has responded to recent changes in market frictions.
Given the rise of automated trading in the post-decimalization era, we examine time trends in price clustering for exchange traded funds (ETFs) and individual stocks during 2001 – 2010. There is limited prior evidence on price clustering for portfolio securities such as ETFs. A striking feature of the evidence is the substantial reduction in clustering over the sample period for ETFs as well as for individual stocks. This decline occurs for trades of all sizes. We attribute the decline in clustering to the increasing prominence of algorithmic trading, which is immune to psychological biases.
The second chapter examines the impact of a firm’s disclosure patterns on its cost of debt. Using data on current report (Form 8-K) filings, we examine firms’ information disclosure behavior prior to debt issuances and the resultant impact on the cost of debt capital. We find that firms increase their current report filing frequency as the debt issuance approaches; this tendency is more pronounced for public debt issues compared to private debt issues. Among public debt issuers, the increase in disclosure is greater for high-yield debt versus investment-grade debt. Analysis of yield spreads of high-yield debt reveals that more disclosure reduces the cost of debt. These results further suggest that debt issuing firms find current report filing as an economic and useful way to improve the information environment.
Finally, chapter three investigates stock market reactions to 8-K reports filed under the new regime in the specific context of acquisitions of privately held target firms by public acquirers. This paper finds that 8-K disclosures filed by public acquirers have a material impact on the pricing and the trading of the acquirers’ shares around the event date and the SEC filing dates. Further, we find that this impact is economically significant even for targets classified as “insignificant” by the SEC. We find no significant effects related to the pre-event information transparency of the acquirer.