We use data from a German online brokerage and a survey to show that retail investors sharply reduce risk-taking in response to nearby firm bankruptcies, which are not pre- dictive of returns. The e↵ects on trading are spatially highly concentrated, immediate and not persistent. They seem to operate through more pessimistic expected returns and increased risk aversion and do not reflect wealth e↵ects or changes in background risks. Investors learn about bankruptcies through immediate coverage in local newspapers. Our findings suggest that non-informative local experiences that make downside risks of stock investment more salient contribute to idiosyncratic short-term fluctuations in trading.
SAFE Working Paper No. 272