Arbitrage Asymmetry and the Idiosyncratic Volatility Puzzle

Arbitrage Asymmetry and the Idiosyncratic Volatility Puzzle

  • ROBERT F. STAMBAUGH
  • JIANFENG YU
  • YU YUAN

Article first published online: 3rd September 2015 DOI: 10.1111/jofi.12286

Abstract


Buying is easier than shorting for many equity investors. Combining this arbitrage asymmetry with the arbitrage risk represented by idiosyncratic volatility (IVOL) explains the negative relation between IVOL and average return. The IVOL‐return relation is negative among overpriced stocks but positive among underpriced stocks, with mispricing determined by combining 11 return anomalies. Consistent with arbitrage asymmetry, the negative relation among overpriced stocks is stronger, especially for stocks less easily shorted, so the overall IVOL‐return relation is negative. Further supporting our explanation, high investor sentiment weakens the positive relation among underpriced stocks and, especially, strengthens the negative relation among overpriced stocks.

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