M Shearer, D Byrd, TH Balch, and MP Wellman

2nd ACM International Conference on AI in Finance (ICAIF), Article No.: 49, pages 1–9, November 2021.


An index-based exchange traded fund (ETF) with underlying securities that trade on the same market creates potential opportunities for arbitrage between price deviations in the ETF and the corresponding index. We examine whether ETF arbitrage transmits small volatility events, termed mini flash crashes, from one of its underlying symbols to another. We address this question in an agent-based, simulated market where agents can trade an ETF and its two underlying symbols. We explore multiple market configurations with active and inactive ETF arbitrageurs. Through empirical game-theoretic analysis, we find that when arbitrageurs actively trade, background traders’ surplus increases because of the increased liquidity. Arbitrage helps the ETF more accurately track the index. We also observe that when one symbol experiences a mini flash crash, arbitrage transmits a price change in the opposite direction to the other symbol. The size of the mini flash crash depends more on the market configuration than the arbitrageurs, but the recovery of the mini flash crash is faster when arbitrageurs are present.