Rational Attention Allocation Over the Business Cycle

57 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2012

See all articles by Marcin T. Kacperczyk

Marcin T. Kacperczyk

Imperial College London - Accounting, Finance, and Macroeconomics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh

Columbia University Graduate School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); ABFER

Laura Veldkamp

Columbia University - Columbia Business School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2012

Abstract

The literature assessing whether mutual fund managers have skill typically regards skill as an immutable attribute of the manager or the fund. Yet, many measures of skill, such as returns, alphas, and measures of stock-picking and market-timing, appear to vary over the business cycle. Because time-varying ability seems far-fetched, these results call into question the existence of skill itself. This paper offers a rational explanation, arguing that skill is a general cognitive ability that can be applied to different tasks, such as picking stocks or market timing. Using tools from the rational inattention literature, we show that the relative value of these tasks varies cyclically. The model generates indirect predictions for the dispersion and returns of fund portfolios that distinguish this explanation from others and which are supported by the data. In turn, these findings offer useful evidence to support the notion of rational attention allocation.

Suggested Citation

Kacperczyk, Marcin T. and Van Nieuwerburgh, Stijn and Veldkamp, Laura, Rational Attention Allocation Over the Business Cycle (January 2012). NYU Working Paper No. 2451/31425, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1983083

Marcin T. Kacperczyk

Imperial College London - Accounting, Finance, and Macroeconomics ( email )

South Kensington campus
London SW7 2AZ
United Kingdom

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh (Contact Author)

Columbia University Graduate School of Business ( email )

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New York, NY New York 10027
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://www0.gsb.columbia.edu/faculty/svannieuwerburgh/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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ABFER ( email )

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Laura Veldkamp

Columbia University - Columbia Business School ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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