Unstable Price Dynamics as a Result of Information Absorption in Speculative Markets

TitleUnstable Price Dynamics as a Result of Information Absorption in Speculative Markets
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsPatzelt, F, Pawelzik, KR
Type of ArticleReport

In speculative markets, risk-free profit opportunities are eliminated by traders exploiting them. Markets are therefore often described as "informationally efficient", rapidly removing predictable price changes, and leaving only residual unpredictable fluctuations. This classical view of markets absorbing information and otherwise operating close to an equilibrium is challenged by extreme price fluctuations, in particular since they occur far more frequently than can be accounted for by external news. Here we show that speculative markets which absorb mainly self-generated information can exhibit both: evolution towards efficient equilibrium states as well as their subsequent destabilization. This peculiar dynamics, a generic instability arising from an adaptive control which annihilates predictable information, is realized in a minimal agent-based market model where the impacts of agents’ strategies adapt according to their trading success. This adaptation implements a learning rule for the market as a whole minimizing predictable price changes. The model reproduces stylized statistical properties of price changes in quantitative detail, including heavy tailed log return distributions and volatility clusters. Our results demonstrate that the perpetual occurrence of market instabilities can be a direct consequence of the very mechanisms that lead to market efficiency. UPDATE: The final peer reviewed article is now published under the title "An Inherent Instability of Efficient Markets" at Nature Scientific Reports. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep02784