The Twilight Zone: OTC Regulatory Regimes and Market Quality
100 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2013 Last revised: 24 Nov 2021
Date Written: August 2013
We analyze a comprehensive sample of more than 10,000 U.S. OTC stocks. We provide much needed descriptive evidence on this market and show that the OTC market is a large, diverse, and dynamic trading environment with a rich set of regulatory and disclosure regimes, comprising venue rules and state laws beyond SEC regulation. We also exploit the institutional richness of the OTC market and analyze two key dimensions of market quality, liquidity and crash risk, across firms and regulatory regimes. We find that OTC firms that are subject to stricter regulatory regimes and disclosure requirements have higher market quality (higher liquidity and lower crash risk). Our analysis points to an important trade-off in regulating the OTC market and protecting investors: Lowering regulatory requirements (e.g., for disclosure) reduces the compliance burden for smaller firms, but also reduces market quality.
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