Speculation and its impact on trading volume

Speculation and its impact on trading volume Speculation and its impact on trading volume

July 24, 20181 min read

Financial researchers have long wondered exactly which economic forces cause variation in asset prices and returns. For instance, traders will often target financial instruments due to their volatile and highly liquid nature, such as US treasury bonds. This speculative behavior takes advantage of the frequent price movements of the product. But the influence of that behavior remains the subject of debate. Francisco Barillas, assistant professor of finance, and Kristoffer Nimark (Cornell U) take a deep dive into the issue by investigating the impact of speculative trading activity on the variation of long maturity US bond yields. For their analysis, Barillas and Nimark use public information to develop a rational model to track “informed traders that take on speculative positions to exploit what they perceive to be inaccurate market expectations about future bond prices.” They argue that their research takes a more “suitable approach for empirical work” by factoring in how traders exploit private information that other traders may not have. The authors note that bond prices alone are not enough information for predicting bond returns. The two write, “If traders have access to different information, this price may differ from what an individual trader would be willing to pay for the bond if he had to hold it until maturity.” Ultimately, they find that this speculation remains a key driver of trading volume, accounting for a “substantial fraction of the variation in historical US bond yields along with the usual analysis of estimating returns based on bond prices.”


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  • Francisco Barillas
    Francisco Barillas Assistant Professor of Finance

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