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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Essays in information economics Martineau, Charles


I present three essays on Information Economics. The first essay consists of analyzing high-frequency price dynamics around earnings announcements for the largest 1,500 U.S. stocks between 2011 and 2015. Price discovery following earnings surprises mostly occurs in the after-hours market, following the earnings announcement, and is generally complete by 10 a.m. Eighty percent of the price response to earnings surprises in the after-hours market occurs upon arrival of the first trades. Price reactions are largely explained by earnings surprises and not by order flow, consistent with the theoretical view that news can incorporate prices instantly. In the second essay, co-authored with Oliver Boguth and Vincent Grégoire, we show that in an effort to increase transparency, the Chair of the Federal Reserve now holds a press conference following some, but not all, Federal Open Market Committee announcements. Press conferences are scheduled independently of economic conditions and communicate little information. Evidence from financial markets demonstrates that investors lower their expectations of important decisions on days without press conferences, and we show that they shift attention away from these announcements. Both channels prevent effective monetary policy, as the committee is averse to surprising markets and aims to coordinate market expectations. Correspondingly, we show that announcements without press conferences convey less price-relevant information. In the third essay, co-authored with Adlai J. Fisher and Jinfei Sheng, we construct indices of media attention to macroeconomic risks including employment, growth, inflation and monetary policy. Attention rises around macroeconomic announcements and following changes in fundamentals over quarterly, annual, and business cycle horizons. The effect is asymmetric, with bad news raising attention more than good news. Increases in aggregate trade volume and volatility coincide with rising attention, controlling for announcements. Finally, changes in attention prior to the unemployment announcement predict both the announcement surprise and stock returns on the announcement day. We conclude that media attention to macroeconomic fundamentals provides useful information beyond the dates and contents of macroeconomic announcements.

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