Bridge over ocean
21 February 2018 Financial Analysts Journal Volume 74, Issue 1

Investing in the Presence of Massive Flows: The Case of MSCI Country Reclassifications

  1. Terence C. Burnham
  2. Harry Gakidis
  3. Jeffrey Wurgler

Almost $10 trillion is benchmarked to MSCI’s developed, emerging, frontier, and standalone market indexes. Reclassifications from one index to another require thousands of investors to decide how to react. We study a comprehensive sample of past reclassifications to inform this decision. On average, reclassified markets’ prices substantially overshoot between the announcement date and the effective date—prices fall when a market moves from an index with more benchmarked ownership to one with less (such as from emerging to frontier) and vice versa—but largely revert within a year. We identify alpha-maximizing responses to reclassifications for both benchmarked and more flexible investors.

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