On Time-Scaling of Risk and the Square-Root-Of-Time Rule
25 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2004
Date Written: November 3, 2005
Many financial applications, such as risk analysis and derivatives pricing, depend on time scaling of risk. A common method for this purpose, though only correct when returns are iid normal, is the square-root-of-time rule where an estimated quantile of a return distribution is scaled to a lower frequency by the square-root of the time horizon. The aim of this paper is to examine time scaling of risk when returns follow a jump diffusion process. It is argued that a jump diffusion is well-suited for the modeling of systemic risk, which is the raison d'etre of the Basel capital adequacy proposals. We demonstrate that the square-root-of-time rule leads to a systematic underestimation of risk, whereby the degree of underestimation worsens with the time horizon, the jump intensity and the confidence level. As a result, even if the square-root-of-time rule has widespread applications in the Basel Accords, it fails to address the objective of the Accords.
Keywords: Square-root-of-time rule, time-scaling of risk, value-at-risk, systemic risk, risk regulation, jump diffusions
JEL Classification: G18, G20, D81
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation