Sorry to Belabor the Point

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Following on the previous post (my enthusiasm for this book bubbles over) this bit of analysis:

from The (Mis)Behavior of Markets
Benoit Mandelbrot and Richard L. Hudson

Second, contrary to orthodoxy, price changes are very far from following the bell curve. If they did, you should be able to run any market's price records through a computer, analyze the changes and watch them fall into the approximate "normality" assumed by Bachelier's random walk. They should cluster about the mean, or average, of no change. In fact, the bell curve fits reality very poorly. From 1916 to 2003, the daily index movements of the Dow Jones Industrial Average do not spread out on graph paper like a simple bell curve. The far edges flare too high: too many big changes. Theory suggests that over time there should be fifty-eight days when the Dow moved more than 3.4 percent; in fact, there were 1,001. Theory predicts six days of index swings beyond 4.5 percent; in fact, there were 366. And index swings of more than 7 percent should come once every 300,000 years; in fact, the twentieth century saw forty-eight such days. Truly a calamitous era that insists on flaunting all predictions. Or, perhaps, our assumptions are wrong.

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Does chaos theory explain the shifts? Or does the market simply exist outside of any pat mathematical theory?



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on August 31, 2004 2:30 PM.

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