Speculation and bubbles

17 May 2012
Jose A Scheinkman (Theodore Wells '29 Professor of Economics at Princeton)
In this lecture I will exploit a model of asset prices where speculators overconfidence is a source of heterogeneous beliefs and arbitrage is limited. In the model, asset buyers are the most positive investors, but prices exceed their optimistic valuation because the owner of an asset has the option of reselling it in the future to an even more optimistic buyer. The value of this resale option can be identified as a bubble. I will focus on assets with a fixed terminal date, as is often the case with credit instruments. I will show that the size of a bubble satisfies a Partial Differential Equation that is similar to the equation satisfied by an American option and use the PDE to evaluate the impact of parameters such as interest rates or a “Tobin tax” on the size of the bubble and on trading volume.