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Herd behavior and contagion in financial markets

Abstract

Imitative behavior and contagion are well-documented regularities of financial markets. We study whether they can occur in a two-asset economy where rational agents trade sequentially. When traders have gains from trade, informational cascades arise and prices fail to aggregate information dispersed among traders. During a cascade all informed traders with the same preferences choose the same action, i.e., they herd. Moreover, herd behavior can generate financial contagion. Informational cascades and herds can spill over from one asset to the other, pushing the price of the other asset far from its fundamental value

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