The Causal Effect of Limits to Arbitrage on Asset Pricing Anomalies

Yongqiang Chu, David Hirshleifer, and Liang Ma

July 2016


We examine the causal effect of limits to arbitrage on ten well-known asset pricing anomalies using Regulation SHO, which reduced the cost of short selling for a random set of pilot stocks, as a natural experiment. We find that the anomalies become substantially weaker on portfolios constructed with pilot stocks during the pilot period. Regulation SHO reduces the combined anomaly long-short portfolio returns by 77 basis points per month, a difference which survives risk adjustment with standard factor models. The effect comes only from the short legs of the anomaly portfolios.

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