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During episodes of market turmoil, institutional investors with short trading horizons are inclined or forced to sell their holdings to a larger extent than investors with longer trading horizons. This may amplify the effects of market-wide shocks on the prices of stocks held by short horizon investors. We test the relevance of this mechanism by exploiting the negative shock caused by Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy in September 2008. Consistent with our conjecture, short-term investors sell significantly more than long-term investors around and after the Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy. Most importantly, stocks held by short-term investors experience more severe price drops and larger price reversals than those held by long-term investors. Since they are obtained after controlling for contemporaneous net flows, the stocks’ exposure to innovations in implied volatility and aggregate liquidity, various firms’ and investors’ characteristics, including the momentum effect and the propensity of institutional investors to follow an index, our results cannot be explained by characteristics of the institutions’ investment strategy other than their investment horizons. We also show that the effect of investor trading horizon emerges during other episodes of severe market turmoil, such as the October 1987 market crash. Overall, the empirical evidence strongly indicates that investors’ short horizons amplify the effects of market-wide negative shocks.

Published in

The Review of Financial Studies,
Volume 26, Issue 7, Pages 1607–1648,

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