Inflation and Individual Investors' Behavior: Evidence from the German Hyperinflation
74 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2021 Last revised: 6 Nov 2021
Date Written: August 4, 2021
This paper analyzes how individual investors respond to inflation. We introduce a unique dataset containing information on local inflation and security portfolios of more than 2,000 clients of a German bank between 1920 and 1924, covering the hyperinflation. We find that individual investors buy less (sell more) stocks when facing higher local inflation. This effect is more pronounced for less sophisticated investors. We also document a positive relation between local inflation and forgone returns following stock sales. Our findings are consistent with individual investors suffering from money illusion. Alternative explanations such as consumption needs are unlikely to drive our results.
Keywords: inflation, investor behavior, individual investors, behavioral biases, money illusion
JEL Classification: D14, E31, G11, G41, N14
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