Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

The booms and busts of beta arbitrage

Lou, Dong ORCID: 0000-0002-5623-4338, Polk, Christopher and Huang, Shiyang (2014) The booms and busts of beta arbitrage. Financial Markets Group Discussion Papers (743). Financial Markets Group, The London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

[img] Text (DP743) - Published Version
Download (727kB)


Historically, low-beta stocks deliver high average returns and low risk relative to high-beta stocks, offering a potentially profitable investment opportunity for professional money managers to "arbitrage" away. We argue that beta-arbitrage activity instead generates booms and busts in the strategy's abnormal trading profits. In times of relatively little activity, the beta-arbitrage strategy exhibits delayed correction, taking up to three years for abnormal returns to be realized. In stark contrast, in times of relatively-high activity, short-run abnormal returns are much larger and then revert in the long run for the stocks in question. Importantly, we document a novel positive feedback channel operating through firm-level leverage that facilitates these boom and bust cycles. Namely, when arbitrage activity is relatively high and beta-arbitrage stocks are relatively more levered, the cross-sectional spread in betas widens, resulting in stocks remaining in beta-arbitrage positions significantly longer with short-run abnormal returns more than tripling in value. Our findings are exclusively in stocks with relatively low limits to arbitrage (large, liquid stocks with low idiosyncratic risk), consistent with excessive arbitrage activity destabilizing prices.

Item Type: Monograph (Discussion Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2014 The Authors
Divisions: Finance
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HG Finance
JEL classification: G - Financial Economics > G0 - General > G00 - General
G - Financial Economics > G1 - General Financial Markets > G12 - Asset Pricing; Trading volume; Bond Interest Rates
G - Financial Economics > G1 - General Financial Markets > G14 - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies
G - Financial Economics > G2 - Financial Institutions and Services > G23 - Pension Funds; Other Private Financial Institutions
Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2023 14:00
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2023 00:01

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics