No. 1063 - Informational contagion in the laboratory

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by Marco Cipriani, Antonio Guarino, Giovanni Guazzarotti, Federico Tagliati and Sven Fischer April 2016

We study the informational channel of financial contagion under laboratory conditions.

In our experiment, two markets with correlated fundamentals open sequentially and in both of them subjects receive private information. Subjects in the market opening second also observe the history of trades and prices in the first market.

We find that although in both markets private information is only imperfectly aggregated, subjects are able to make correct inferences based on the public information coming from the market that opens first.

We thus observe financial contagion under laboratory conditions: the correlation between asset prices is very close to that predicted by the theory. Moreover, as the theory predicts, there is no contagion when asset fundamentals are independent: in other words, subjects only react to the history of prices and trades in the first market when it is rational to do so because they convey information.

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