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2003, Liquidity and expected returns: Lessons from emerging markets, Working paper

By Geert Bekaert, Campbell R. Harvey and Christian Lundblad


Given the cross-sectional and temporal variation in their liquidity, emerging equity markets provide an ideal setting to examine the impact of liquidity on expected returns. Our main liquidity measure is a transformation of the proportion of zero daily firm returns, averaged over the month. We find that it significantly predicts future returns, whereas alternative measures such as turnover do not. Consistent with liquidity being a priced factor, unexpected liquidity shocks are positively correlated with contemporaneous return shocks and negatively correlated with shocks to the dividend yield. We consider a simple asset-pricing model with liquidity and the market portfolio as risk factors and transaction costs that are proportional to liquidity. The model differentiates between integrated and segmented countries and time periods. Our results suggest that local market liquidity is an important driver of expected returns in emerging markets, and that the liberalization process has not fully eliminated its impact. (JEL G12, G15, F30) It is generally acknowledged that liquidity is important for asset pricing. Illiquid assets and assets with high transaction costs trade at low prices relative to their expected cash flows, that is, average liquidity is priced [e.g., Amihud and Mendelson (1986); Brennan and Subrahmanyam (1996); Datar et al. (1998); Chordia et al. (2001b)]. Liquidity also predicts future returns and liquidity shocks are positively correlated with retur

Year: 2010
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