Significance of Log-Periodic Precursors to Financial Crashes
38 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2001
Date Written: June 2001
We clarify the status of log-periodicity associated with speculative bubbles preceding financial crashes. In particular, we address Feigenbaum's  criticism and show how it can be rebuked. Feigenbaum's main result is as follows: "the hypothesis that the log-periodic component is present in the data cannot be rejected at the 95% confidence level when using all the data prior to the 1987 crash; however, it can be rejected by removing the last year of data." (e.g., by removing 15% of the data closest to the critical point). We stress that it is naive to analyze a critical point phenomenon, i.e., a power law divergence, reliably by removing the most important part of the data closest to the critical point. We also present the history of log-periodicity in the present context explaining its essential features and why it may be important. We offer an extension of the rational expectation bubble model for general and arbitrary risk-aversion within the general stochastic discount factor theory. We suggest guidelines for using log-periodicity and explain how to develop and interpret statistical tests of log-periodicity. We discuss the issue of prediction based on our results and the evidence of outliers in the distribution of drawdowns. New statistical tests demonstrate that the 1% to 10% quantile of the largest events of the population of drawdowns of the Nasdaq composite index and of the Dow Jones Industrial Average index belong to a distribution significantly different from the rest of the population. This suggests that very large drawdowns result from an amplification mechanism that may make them more predictable than smaller market moves.
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