Who Sold During the Crash of 2008-9? Evidence from Tax-Return Data on Daily Sales of Stock

Thursday April 21, 2016

We examine individual stock sales from 2008 to 2009 using population tax return data. The share of sales by the top 0.1 percent of income recipients and other top income groups rose sharply following the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and remained elevated throughout the financial crisis. Sales by top income and older age groups were relatively more responsive to increased stock market volatility. Volatility-driven sales were not concentrated in any one sector, but mutual fund sales responded more strongly to increased volatility than stock sales. Additional analysis suggests that gross sales in tax return data are informative about unobserved net sales.