Economic policy uncertainty and heterogeneous institutional investor horizons

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Wang, Xiaoqiong
Wei, Siqi
Zhu, Xiaoyang

Wang, X., Wei, S. & Zhu, X. (2023). Economic policy uncertainty and heterogeneous institutional investor horizons. Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting.


Existing literature has extensively discussed the impact of economic policy uncertainty (EPU) on firm-related activities, but there is sparse evidence of its impact on the behavior of institutional investors. Using quarterly U.S firm-level data for 1980Q1-2020Q4, we find heterogeneous responses of institutional investors to EPU shocks to different horizons. Specifically, long-term institutional investors respond positively to EPU shocks, while short-term institutional investors reduce their holdings during periods of uncertainty. We posit that different expectations about the future of firms between long- and short-term investors may account for the heterogeneous responses. We test this hypothesis by investigating how firm growth opportunities, volatility, and investment activity influence the relationship between EPU and institutional investor horizons. The results show that the positive (negative) effect of EPU on long-term (short-term) institutional investors becomes stronger for firms with higher growth opportunities, higher volatility, and more investment. Our paper has important economic implications that the countercyclical behavior of long-term institutional investors improves firm value and liquidity during uncertain periods.

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