Execution costs, investability, and actual foreign investment in emerging markets

Hee-Joon AHN, Jun CAI, Yan Leung Stephen CHEUNG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This paper focuses on execution costs as liquidity measure. Execution costs are related to volatility and are an important component of a firm's cost of capital. The purpose of this paper is to examine whether emerging market firms have lower execution costs when they face less restrictions on foreign investment and when they have more foreign shareholders.
Design/methodology/approach: The authors begin by documenting the cross-sectional behavior of execution costs. The authors then obtain preliminary evidence on the interaction between execution costs, the investability index and actual foreign investment. These results foreshadow those the authors obtain with the regression analysis. The ordinary least square results show that more investable firms have lower execution costs after the authors control for firm size, stock price, return volatility, industry effects and country effects. This evidence is very robust and highly significant. Direct foreign ownership (FO) in emerging market firms also appear to be associated with lower execution costs. The economic benefit from lowering the investability index on trade execution costs is highly significant.
Findings: Using a large cross-sectional sample from 23 emerging markets, the authors show that firms with more ex ante restrictions on FO, measured by the investability index, have lower execution costs, such as quoted spreads (QS) and effective spreads (ES), after the authors control for firm size, stock price, return volatility, industry factors and country effects. In addition, direct FO in emerging market firms appears to be associated with lower execution costs. However, ex ante restrictions on FO dominate the influence of direct FO. For a 0.5 increase in the investability index in the range of 0–1, the QS will be reduced by 17 percent of the mean QS, and the ES will be reduced by 12 percent of the mean ES from the sample stocks.
Originality/value: There are important differences between the approach and most of the financial liberalization studies. First, whereas most of the earlier studies are conducted at the level of country or market analysis, the investigation is at the level of individual stocks. Second, the authors focus on a cross-sectional association that avoids a criticism leveled at time series analyses. Over-time studies often use specific time points to represent financial liberalization watersheds. This approach can be misleading when financial liberalizations are viewed as processes that unfold over time. Third, the proxies for financial openness are available not only for individual firms across markets, but the authors also make a distinction between potential and actual foreign investment. The authors further categorize actual foreign investment into direct and indirect FO. Copyright © 2019 Emerald Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-167
JournalChina Finance Review International
Issue number2
Early online dateFeb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020


Ahn, H.-J., Cai, J., & Cheung, Y.-L. (2020). Execution costs, investability, and actual foreign investment in emerging markets. China Finance Review International, 10(2), 143-167. doi: 10.1108/CFRI-04-2018-0030


  • Emerging markets
  • Foreign ownership
  • Execution costs
  • Investability
  • G11
  • G15


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