Anomaly Discovery and Arbitrage Trading

Xi Dong, Qi Liu, Lei Lu, Bo Sun, and Hongjun Yan

We analyze a model in which an anomaly is unknown to arbitrageurs until its discovery, and test the model implications on both asset prices and arbitrageurs’ trading activities. Using data on 99 anomalies documented in the existing literature, we find that the discovery of an anomaly reduces the correlation between the returns of its decile-1 and decile-10 portfolios. This discovery effect is stronger if the aggregate wealth of hedge funds is more volatile. Finally, hedge funds increase (reverse) their positions in exploiting anomalies when their aggregate wealth increases (decreases), further suggesting that these discovery effects operate through arbitrage trading.