The Journal of Finance

The Journal of Finance publishes leading research across all the major fields of finance. It is one of the most widely cited journals in academic finance, and in all of economics. Each of the six issues per year reaches over 8,000 academics, finance professionals, libraries, and government and financial institutions around the world. The journal is the official publication of The American Finance Association, the premier academic organization devoted to the study and promotion of knowledge about financial economics.

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A Tough Act to Follow: Contrast Effects in Financial Markets

Published: 04/16/2018   |   DOI: 10.1111/jofi.12685

SAMUEL M. HARTZMARK, KELLY SHUE

A contrast effect occurs when the value of a previously observed signal inversely biases perception of the next signal. We present the first evidence that contrast effects can distort prices in sophisticated and liquid markets. Investors mistakenly perceive earnings news today as more impressive if yesterday's earnings surprise was bad and less impressive if yesterday's surprise was good. A unique advantage of our financial setting is that we can identify contrast effects as an error in perceptions rather than expectations. Finally, we show that our results cannot be explained by an alternative explanation involving information transmission from previous earnings announcements.


How Do Quasi‐Random Option Grants Affect CEO Risk‐Taking?

Published: 08/01/2017   |   DOI: 10.1111/jofi.12545

KELLY SHUE, RICHARD R. TOWNSEND

We examine how an increase in stock option grants affects CEO risk‐taking. The overall net effect of option grants is theoretically ambiguous for risk‐averse CEOs. To overcome the endogeneity of option grants, we exploit institutional features of multiyear compensation plans, which generate two distinct types of variation in the timing of when large increases in new at‐the‐money options are granted. We find that, given average grant levels during our sample period, a 10% increase in new options granted leads to a 2.8% to 4.2% increase in equity volatility. This increase in risk is driven largely by increased leverage.