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PANIC! PANIC! The sky is falling!!: A study of household’s reaction to financial news and whether their reaction is rational
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business.
2008 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

If you happen to be an American and have trouble sleeping, do not attempt to fall asleep watching the nightly news because it is anything but boring. At a glance, the American economy seems to be in shambles. The United States has an all-time high deficit, the housing market has crashed or is in the process of doing so, capital markets are becoming increasingly volatile and credit institutions in and outside the US are reporting heavy losses. The American presidential elections will take place this November, and there is no question that the economy will be one of the main issues.

How has the unstable economic atmosphere affected the financial behavior of households in the United States and where have they received the financial information and advice from? Have the changes that they have made in their personal savings/investments and asset portfolios changed in any way and if so, are these changes based on rational decisions or mere hunches?

This paper intends to answer these questions through a qualitative approach by interviewing eight tailor picked households in the United States. We take a constructionist ontological position assuming that social entities have a reality that is constructed by the perception of social actors. Furthermore, we have taken the epistemological Interpretevist stance assuming that we study the world by looking at its social actors.

We have utilized a number of theories to aid us through our deductive approach where we collect theory, then collect data, analyze the findings, confirm or reject existing theory, then revisit the existing theory with the new data. The main theories include the Efficient Market Hypothesis, Behavioral Finance, Metacommunication and Dissemination of Information and Animal Spirits including all their subsidiary theories.

The interview process involved utilizing an unstructured format and once interviews were collected, they were compiled into summarized form through an emotionalist approach. Conclusions were then drawn by finding common denominators between the interviewees’ sentiments. We found the signs of Keynes’ Animal Spirits, overreaction to information, and amplification of information through private sources. Furthermore, we have been able to find that advice had changed over the past year although we were unable to conclude how it had changed. Finally, a number of findings including people’s risk averse behavior towards volatile stock markets gave us an overall picture of the Efficient Market Hypothesis being less true in this situation than Behavioral Finance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Handelshögskolan vid Umeå universitet , 2008. , 68 p.
Keyword [en]
Behavioral Finance, Efficient Market Hypothesis, Recession, Media, Metacommunication, Investment
National Category
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-1946OAI: diva2:142521
Available from: 2008-12-17 Created: 2008-12-17Bibliographically approved

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