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Stock Market Speculation: Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking of Economic Valuation

  • D. Sornette

    (UCLA and CNRS-University of Nice)

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    Firm foundation theory estimates a security's firm fundamental value based on four determinants: expected growth rate, expected dividend payout, the market interest rate and the degree of risk. In contrast, other views of decision-making in the stock market, using alternatives such as human psychology and behavior, bounded rationality, agent-based modeling and evolutionary game theory, expound that speculative and crowd behavior of investors may play a major role in shaping market prices. Here, we propose that the two views refer to two classes of companies connected through a ``phase transition''. Our theory is based on 1) the identification of the fundamental parity symmetry of prices ($p \to -p$), which results from the relative direction of payment flux compared to commodity flux and 2) the observation that a company's risk-adjusted growth rate discounted by the market interest rate behaves as a control parameter for the observable price. We find a critical value of this control parameter at which a spontaneous symmetry-breaking of prices occurs, leading to a spontaneous valuation in absence of earnings, similarly to the emergence of a spontaneous magnetization in Ising models in absence of a magnetic field. The low growth rate phase is described by the firm foundation theory while the large growth rate phase is the regime of speculation and crowd behavior. In practice, while large ``finite-time horizon'' effects round off the predicted singularities, our symmetry-breaking speculation theory accounts for the apparent over-pricing and the high volatility of fast growing companies on the stock markets.

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    File URL: http://arxiv.org/pdf/cond-mat/0004001
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    Paper provided by arXiv.org in its series Papers with number cond-mat/0004001.

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    Date of creation: Apr 2000
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    Publication status: Published in Physica A 284 (Nos. 104), 355-375 (2000)
    Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:cond-mat/0004001
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://arxiv.org/

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    1. Sornette, Didier, 1998. "Linear stochastic dynamics with nonlinear fractal properties," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 250(1), pages 295-314.
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