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Revisiting The Finite Mixture Of Gaussian Distributions With Applications To Futures Markets


  • Chiraz Labidi

    (ESSEC Graduate School of Management)

  • Thierry An

    (University Paris IX Dauphine, CEREG)


In this paper, we present a new estimation method for Gaussian mixture modeling, namely the Kurtosis-controlled EM algorithm, that overcomes the limitations of the usual estimation techniques via kurtosis control and kernel splitting. Our simulation study shows that the dynamic allocation of kernels according to the value of the total kurtosis measure makes the proposed Kurtosis-controlled EM algorithm an efficient method for Gaussian mixture density estimation. It is shown that this algorithm yields considerable improvements over the classical EM algorithm. We then used the discrete Gaussian mixture framework to account for the observed thick-tailed distributions of futures returns and applied the Kurtosis-controlled EM algorithm to estimate the distributions of real (agricultural, metal and energy) and financial (stock index and currency) futures returns. We proved that this framework is perfectly adapted to capturing the departures from normality of the observed return distributions. Unlike previous studies, it is shown that a two-component Gaussian mixture is too poor a model to accurately capture the distributional properties of returns. Similar results have been obtained for stocks, indices, currencies, interest rates and commodities. This has important implications in many financial studies using Gaussian mixtures to incorporate the thickness of the tails of the distributions in the computation of Value-at-Risk or to infer implied risk-neutral densities from option prices to name but a few.

Suggested Citation

  • Chiraz Labidi & Thierry An, 2000. "Revisiting The Finite Mixture Of Gaussian Distributions With Applications To Futures Markets," Computing in Economics and Finance 2000 67, Society for Computational Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sce:scecf0:67

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:dau:papers:123456789/2749 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:dau:papers:123456789/2714 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Buckley, Ian & Saunders, David & Seco, Luis, 2008. "Portfolio optimization when asset returns have the Gaussian mixture distribution," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 185(3), pages 1434-1461, March.
    4. Ane, Thierry & Ureche-Rangau, Loredana, 2006. "Stock market dynamics in a regime-switching asymmetric power GARCH model," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 109-129.

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