Sequential Sales, Learning, and Cascades

  • Author(s): IVO WELCH
  • Published: Apr 30, 2012
  • Pages: 695-732
  • DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-6261.1992.tb04406.x

ABSTRACT

When IPO shares are sold sequentially, later potential investors can learn from the purchasing decisions of earlier investors. This can lead rapidly to “cascades” in which subsequent investors optimally ignore their private information and imitate earlier investors. Although rationing in this situation gives rise to a winner's curse, it is irrelevant. The model predicts that: (1) Offerings succeed or fail rapidly. (2) Demand can be so elastic that even risk‐neutral issuers underprice to completely avoid failure. (3) Issuers with good inside information can price their shares so high that they sometimes fail. (4) An underwriter may want to reduce the communication among investors by spreading the selling effort over a more segmented market.

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