Complexity researchers who study the behavior of stock markets may have identified a signal that precedes crashes.
They say the telltale sign is a measure of co-movement, or the likelihood of stocks to move in the same direction. When a market is healthy, co-movement is low. But in the months and years before a crash, co-movement seems to grow.
Regardless of whether stock prices go up or down or stay the same, they do so in tandem. People are copying each other, and a small nudge can send everyone in the same direction. The system appears primed for collapse.
“One of the most important things happening now is that economists are trying to understand, what is systemic risk? When is the entire system vulnerable to disaster? Our results show that we have a direct, unambiguous measure of that vulnerability,” said Yaneer Bar-Yam, president of the New England Complex Systems Institute.
Seen through an econophysicist’s eyes, a stock market panic is an avalanche.
Bar-Yam’s findings, released Feb. 13 on arXiv, are part of an emerging research field known as econophysics. It applies to economics insights from the physical world, especially from systems in which networks of interacting units produce radical collective behaviors.
Heated water turning to gas is one such behavior, known technically as a phase transition. Another is snow gathering into an avalanche. Seen through an econophysicist’s eyes, a stock market panic is an avalanche, too.
Many improbable occurrences conspired to create Earth’s human-friendly design, and they would indeed be puzzling if ours were the only solar system in the universe. But today we know of hundreds of other solar systems, and few doubt that there exist countless more among the billions of stars in our galaxy. Planets of all sorts exist, and obviously, when the beings on a planet that supports life examine the world around them, they are bound to find that their environment satisfies the conditions they require to exist.
Many people would like us to use these coincidences as evidence of the work of God. The idea that the universe was designed to accommodate mankind appears in theologies and mythologies dating from thousands of years ago. In Western culture the Old Testament contains the idea of providential design, but the traditional Christian viewpoint was also greatly influenced by Aristotle, who believed "in an intelligent natural world that functions according to some deliberate design."
That is not the answer of modern science. As recent advances in cosmology suggest, the laws of gravity and quantum theory allow universes to appear spontaneously from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.
Our universe seems to be one of many, each with different laws. That multiverse idea is not a notion invented to account for the miracle of fine tuning. It is a consequence predicted by many theories in modern cosmology. If it is true it reduces the strong anthropic principle to the weak one, putting the fine tunings of physical law on the same footing as the environmental factors, for it means that our cosmic habitat—now the entire observable universe—is just one of many.
Simon-Pierre Laplace was a Very Clever Man who did many Very Clever Things. Unfortunately, like many clever men, having got hold of a Brilliant Idea he was rather inclined to go off and use it on everything in sight, which led to a number of Very Odd Conclusions. In fact as far as science goes, he may well have been the original man with a hammer; taking aim at every problem as though it was a nail.
As is the way of these things economists got hold of Laplace’s ideas, converted them to their own and started developing delicate and intricate webs of theories and practices. Unfortunately, over the succeeding three hundred years they’ve failed to keep up with advances in physics and biology, rather leaving economists as the only believers in an approach that suggests we have no free will, a position from which they’re having to be dug out and defused, one unexploded theorist at a time.
When Isaac Newton published his theory of gravity he knew it contained a serious flaw; his equations didn’t exactly match what was observed. He reckoned, correctly, that the differences between his theory and the observations were down to the gravitational effect on the planets of other planets – so called perturbations, which he didn’t know how to mathematically model. He said:
“But to consider simultaneously all these causes of motion and to define these motions by exact laws admitting of easy calculation exceeds, if I am not mistaken, the force of any human mind.”
And, of course, he was mistaken. The force of Laplace’s mind successfully solved the problem. Having achieved this, though, Laplace went a stage further. Because he could exactly calculate the position of any planet he could compare this with the results of observations from astronomers. What he discovered changed human history.
It turned out that observers made errors, but they made them in a particular way – their observations fell about the actual position of the planet in a very distinctive pattern. This pattern, of course, was the ultra-familiar Bell curve or normal distribution. Laplace realised that human error was statistically quantifiable and, therefore, could be effectively eliminated from the data. This…
Debt and budgets in the trillions of dollars and euros are difficult to comprehend. The US budget is nearly $4 Trillion per year while the US official national debt exceeds $18 Trillion. A single large bank may hold contracts for more than $50 Trillion in derivative contracts. Global debt is approximately $200 Trillion.
Let’s relate those numbers to gold prices, gold mined each year, and gold mined throughout history.
According to McKinsey & Company total global debt as of December 2014 was about $...
In an Bloomberg Television interview Bill Gross of Janus Capital spoke with Bloomberg Television's Trish Regan about the outlook for Federal Reserve policy, the U.S. economy and his objectives at Janus Capital.
"Not even thin gruel is being offered to our modern-day Oliver Twist investors. You have to pay to come to the dinner table and then sit there staring at an empty plate."
"The interest rate can't be raised substantially even over the next two to three years."
"The US has escaped the liquidity trap that euroland and Japan are in. But, not necessarily for all time."
"[Low interest rates] keeps zombie corporations alive because they can borrow at 3 and 4 percent, as opposed to the 8 or 9 percent. It destroys business models. It's destroying the pension industry and in the insurance ind...
Despite low trading volume, a strong dollar, mixed economic and earnings reports, paralyzing weather conditions throughout much of the U.S., and ominous global news events, stocks continue to march ever higher. The world remains on edge about potential Black Swan events from the likes of Russia, Greece, or ISIS (or lone wolf extremists). Moreover, the economic recovery of the U.S. may be feeling the pull of the proverbial ball-and-chain from the rest of the world’s economies. Nevertheless, awash in investable cash, global investors see few choices better than U.S. equities.
In this weekly update, I give my view of the current market environment, offer a technical analysis of the S&P 500 chart, review our weekly fundamentals-based SectorCast rankings of the ten U.S. business sectors, and then ...
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Chris Kimble's chart for KOL shows a recently beaten down ETF struggling to pull itself up from the ashes. As the chart shows, KOL has recently drifted down to levels not seen since the financial crisis of 2008-9.
Bouncing or recovering with energy in general, coal prices appear to have stabilized in the short-term. Reflecting coal prices, KOL has traded between $13.45 and $19.75 during the past year. Bouncing from lows, KOL traded around 2% higher yesterday from $14.26 to $14.48 on high volume. It traded another 3.6% higher in after hours to $15, possibly related to ...
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PSW Members - well, what a year for biotechs! The Biotech Index (IBB) is up a whopping 40%, beating the S&P hands down! The healthcare sector has had a number of high flying IPOs, and beat the Tech Sector in total nubmer of IPOs in the past 12 months. What could go wrong?
Phil has given his Secret Santa Inflation Hedges for 2015, and since I have been trying to keep my head above water between work, PSW, and baseball with my boys...it is time that something is put together for PSW on biotechs in 2015.
Cancer and fibrosis remain two of the hottest areas for VC backed biotechs to invest their monies. A number of companies have gone IPO which have drugs/technologies that fight cancer, includin...
Stocks got off to a rocky start on the first trading day in December, with the S&P 500 Index slipping just below 2050 on Monday. Based on one large bullish SPX options trade executed on Wednesday, however, such price action is not likely to break the trend of strong gains observed in the benchmark index since mid-October. It looks like one options market participant purchased 25,000 of the 31Dec’14 2105/2115 call spreads at a net premium of $2.70 each. The trade cost $6.75mm to put on, and represents the maximum potential loss on the position should the 2105 calls expire worthless at the end of December. The call spread could reap profits of as much as $7.30 per spread, or $18.25mm, in the event that the SPX ends the year above 2115. The index would need to rally 2.0% over the current level...
This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible. Feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
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