Two Essays on Empirical Asset Pricing
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This dissertation consists of two essays on empirical asset pricing. The first essay examines if the idiosyncratic risk is priced. Theories such as Merton (1987) predict that idiosyncratic risk should be priced when investors do not diversify their portfolio. However, the previous literature has presented a mixed set of results of the pricing of idiosyncratic risk. We find strong evidence that idiosyncratic risk is priced differently across bull and bear markets. For the sample period from June 1946 to the end of 2010, a factor portfolio long on stocks with high idiosyncratic volatility and short on stocks with low idiosyncratic volatility yields an equal-weighted monthly return of 1.59% for bull markets but -1.29% for bear markets. These evidences support the hypothesis that investors are rewarded for betting on individual stocks during bull markets and holding more diversified portfolios during bear markets. The second essay examines the role of the limits to arbitrage in the negative effect of liquidity on subsequent stock returns. I hypothesize that if the negative effect persists because of the limits to arbitrage, the effect should be more pronounced when there are more severe limits to arbitrage. My empirical evidence supports the hypothesis. In addition, I find that the effect of the limits to arbitrage on the liquidity anomaly is not correlated to the liquidity risk.