Econophysics: What can physicists contribute to economics

P Gopikrishnan, Luis AN Amaral, Y H Liu, M Meyer, V Plerou, B Rosenow, H E Stanley

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In recent years, a considerable number of physicists have started applying physics concepts and methods to understand economic phenomena. The term "Econophysics" is sometimes used to describe this work. Economic fluctuations can hare many repercussions, and understanding fluctuations is a topic that many physicists have contributed to in recent years. Further, economic systems are examples of complex interacting systems for which a huge amount of data exist and it is possible that the experience gained by physicists ill studying fluctuations in physical systems might yield new results in economics. Much recent work in econophysics is focused on understanding the peculiar statistical properties of price fluctuations in financial time series. In this talk, we discuss three recent results. The first result concerns the probability distribution of stock price fluctuations. This distribution decreases with increasing fluctuations with a power-law tail well outside the Levy stable regime and describes fluctuations that differ by as much as 8 orders of magnitude. Further, this non stable distribution preserves its functional form for fluctuations on time scales that differ by 3 orders of magnitude, from 1 min up to approximately 10 days. The second result concerns the accurate quantification of volatility correlations in financial time series. While price fluctuations themselves have rapidly decaying correlations, the volatility estimated by using either the absolute value or the square of the price fluctuations has correlations that decay as a power-law and persist for several months. The third result bears on the application of random matrix theory to understand the correlations among price fluctuations of any two different stocks. We compare the statistics of the cross-correlation matrix constructed from price fluctuations of the leading 1000 stocks and a matrix with independent random elements, i.e., a random matrix. Contrary to first expectations, we find little or no deviation from the universal predictions of random matrix theory for all but a few of the largest eigenvalues of the cross-correlation matrix.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUPoN’99: Second International Conference
EditorsD Abbott, L B Kish
Place of PublicationMelville, NY
PublisherAmerican Institute of Physics
StatePublished - 2000


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