Using extreme value theory to value stock market returns

Therese Ellen Pactwa, Florida International University


Extreme stock price movements are of great concern to both investors and the entire economy. For investors, a single negative return, or a combination of several smaller returns, can possible wipe out so much capital that the firm or portfolio becomes illiquid or insolvent. If enough investors experience this loss, it could shock the entire economy. An example of such a case is the stock market crash of 1987. Furthermore, there has been a lot of recent interest regarding the increasing volatility of stock prices. This study presents an analysis of extreme stock price movements. The data utilized was the daily returns for the Standard and Poor's 500 index from January 3, 1978 to May 31, 2001. Research questions were analyzed using the statistical models provided by extreme value theory. One of the difficulties in examining stock price data is that there is no consensus regarding the correct shape of the distribution function generating the data. An advantage with extreme value theory is that no detailed knowledge of this distribution function is required to apply the asymptotic theory. We focus on the tail of the distribution. Extreme value theory allows us to estimate a tail index, which we use to derive bounds on the returns for very low probabilities on an excess. Such information is useful in evaluating the volatility of stock prices. There are three possible limit laws for the maximum: Gumbel (thick-tailed), Fréchet (thin-tailed) or Weibull (no tail). Results indicated that extreme returns during the time period studied follow a Fréchet distribution. Thus, this study finds that extreme value analysis is a valuable tool for examining stock price movements and can be more efficient than the usual variance in measuring risk.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Pactwa, Therese Ellen, "Using extreme value theory to value stock market returns" (2001). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3025236.