In this paper, we investigate the role of execution risk in high-frequency trading through arbitrage strategies. We show that if rational agents face uncertainty about completing their arbitrage portfolios, then arbitrage is limited even in markets with perfect substitutes and convertibility. Using a simple model, we demonstrate that this risk arises from the crowding effect of competing arbitrageurs entering the same trade and inflicting negative externalities on each other. Our empirical results provide evidence that support the relevance of execution risk in high-frequency arbitrage.

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ERIM Top-Core Articles
Management Science
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Kozhan, R, & Tham, W.W. (2012). Execution Risk High-frequency Arbitrage. Management Science, 58(11), 2131–2149. doi:10.1287/mnsc.1120.1541