Leverage causes fat tails and clustered volatility
We build a simple model of leveraged asset purchases with margin calls. Investment funds use what is perhaps the most basic financial strategy, called ‘value investing’, i.e. systematically attempting to buy underpriced assets. When funds do not borrow, the price fluctuations of the asset are approximately normally distributed and uncorrelated across time. This changes when the funds are allowed to leverage , i.e. borrow from a bank, which allows them to purchase more assets than their wealth would otherwise permit. During good times, funds that use more leverage have higher profits, increasing their wealth and making them dominant in the market. However, if a downward price fluctuation occurs while one or more funds is fully leveraged, the resulting margin call causes them to sell into an already falling market, amplifying the downward price movement. If the funds hold large positions in the asset, this can cause substantial losses. This in turn leads to clustered volatility: before a crash, when the value funds are dominant, they damp volatility, and after the crash, when they suffer severe losses, volatility is high. This leads to power-law tails, which are both due to the leverage-induced crashes and due to the clustered volatility induced by the wealth dynamics. This is in contrast to previous explanations of fat tails and clustered volatility, which depended on ‘irrational behavior’, such as trend following. A standard (supposedly more sophisticated) risk control policy in which individual banks base leverage limits on volatility causes leverage to rise during periods of low volatility, and to contract more quickly when volatility becomes high, making these extreme fluctuations even worse.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Volume (Year): 12 (2012)
Issue (Month): 5 (February)
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: http://www.tandfonline.com/RQUF20|
|Order Information:||Web: http://www.tandfonline.com/pricing/journal/RQUF20|
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Tobias Adrian & Hyun Song Shin, 2008.
"Liquidity and leverage,"
328, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
- V. Plerou & P. Gopikrishnan & L. A. N. Amaral & M. Meyer & H. E. Stanley, 1999. "Scaling of the distribution of price fluctuations of individual companies," Papers cond-mat/9907161, arXiv.org.
- repec:att:wimass:9625 is not listed on IDEAS
- Markus K. Brunnermeier & Lasse Heje Pedersen, 2009.
"Market Liquidity and Funding Liquidity,"
Review of Financial Studies,
Society for Financial Studies, vol. 22(6), pages 2201-2238, June.
- Brunnermeier, Markus K & Pedersen, Lasse Heje, 2007. "Market Liquidity and Funding Liquidity," CEPR Discussion Papers 6179, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Markus K. Brunnermeier & Lasse Heje Pedersen, 2007. "Market Liquidity and Funding Liquidity," NBER Working Papers 12939, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Markus K. Brunnermeier & Lasse Heje Pedersen, 2007. "Market liquidity and funding liquidity," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 24478, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
- Lasse Heje Pederson & Markus K Brunnermeier, 2007. "Market Liquidity and Funding Liquidity," FMG Discussion Papers dp580, Financial Markets Group.
- Lux, T. & M. Marchesi, . "Scaling and Criticality in a Stochastic Multi-Agent Model of a Financial Market," Discussion Paper Serie B 438, University of Bonn, Germany, revised Jul 1998.
- Eli M. Remolona & Paul Kleiman & Debbie Gruenstein, 1997. "Market returns and mutual fund flows," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Jul, pages 33-52.
- John Geanakoplos, 2009. "The Leverage Cycle," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1715, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
- Judith A. Chevalier & Glenn D. Ellison, 1995.
"Risk Taking by Mutual Funds as a Response to Incentives,"
NBER Working Papers
5234, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Chevalier, Judith & Ellison, Glenn, 1997. "Risk Taking by Mutual Funds as a Response to Incentives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(6), pages 1167-1200, December.
- Chevalier, J. & Ellison, G., 1996. "Risk Taking by Mutual Funds as a Response to Incentives," Working papers 96-3, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
- repec:att:wimass:9706 is not listed on IDEAS
- John Geanakoplos & Ana Fostel, 2008. "Leverage Cycles and the Anxious Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1211-44, September.
- Ole Peters, 2009. "Optimal leverage from non-ergodicity," Papers 0902.2965, arXiv.org, revised Aug 2010.
- Busse, Jeffrey A., 2001. "Another Look at Mutual Fund Tournaments," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 36(01), pages 53-73, March.
- Xavier Gabaix & Parameswaran Gopikrishnan & Vasiliki Plerou & H. Eugene Stanley, 2006.
"Institutional Investors and Stock Market Volatility,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 461-504.
- Xavier Gabaix & Parameswaran Gopikrishnan & Vasiliki Plerou & H. Eugene Stanley, 2005. "Institutional Investors and Stock Market Volatility," NBER Working Papers 11722, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- repec:att:wimass:9621 is not listed on IDEAS
- Brock, William A. & Hommes, Cars H., 1998.
"Heterogeneous beliefs and routes to chaos in a simple asset pricing model,"
Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control,
Elsevier, vol. 22(8-9), pages 1235-1274, August.
- W. Brian Arthur & John H. Holland & Blake LeBaron & Richard Palmer & Paul Taylor, 1996.
"Asset Pricing Under Endogenous Expectation in an Artificial Stock Market,"
96-12-093, Santa Fe Institute.
- Erik R. Sirri & Peter Tufano, 1998. "Costly Search and Mutual Fund Flows," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(5), pages 1589-1622, October.
- Lux, Thomas, 1998. "The socio-economic dynamics of speculative markets: interacting agents, chaos, and the fat tails of return distributions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 143-165, January.
- G. Caldarelli & M. Marsili & Y. -C. Zhang, 1997. "A Prototype Model of Stock Exchange," Papers cond-mat/9709118, arXiv.org.
- Benoit Mandelbrot, 1963. "The Variation of Certain Speculative Prices," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36, pages 394.
- Guercio, Diane Del & Tkac, Paula A., 2002. "The Determinants of the Flow of Funds of Managed Portfolios: Mutual Funds vs. Pension Funds," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 37(04), pages 523-557, December.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:quantf:v:12:y:2012:i:5:p:695-707. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Michael McNulty)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.