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Learning to fail? Evidence from frequent IPO investors

Chiang, Yao-Min and Hirshleifer, David and Qian, Yiming and Sherman, Ann (2009): Learning to fail? Evidence from frequent IPO investors.

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We examine how experience affects the decisions of individual investors and institutions in IPO auctions to bid in subsequent auctions, and their bidding returns. We track bidding histories for all 31,476 individual investors and 1,232 institutional investors across all 84 IPO auctions during 1995-2000 in Taiwan. For individual bidders: (1) high returns in previous IPO auctions increase the likelihood of participating in future auctions; (2) bidders’ returns decrease as they participate in more auctions; Regression results show that as experience increases by one standard deviation, the expected return decreases by 1.3% (1.8%) and the expected dollar profits decrease by NT$4,630 (7,360) for all individual investors (for individuals engaged in repeat bidding); (3) auction selection ability deteriorates with experience; and (4) bidders with greater experience bid more aggressively. These findings are consistent with naïve reinforcement learning wherein individuals become unduly optimistic after receiving good returns. In sharp contrast, there is little sign that institutional investors exhibit such behavior.

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