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No 705:
Extreme correlation of international equity markets

François LONGIN and Bruno SOLNIK

Abstract: Testing the hypothesis that international equity market correlation increases in volatile times is a difficult exercise and misleading results have often been reported in the past because of a spurious relationship between correlation and volatility. This paper focuses on extreme correlation, that is to say the correlation between returns in either the negative or positive tail of the multivariate distribution. Using "extreme value theory" to model the multivariate distribution tails, we derive the distribution of extreme correlation for a wide class of return distributions. Using monthly data on the five largest stock markets from 1958 to 1996, we reject the null hypothesis of multivariate normality for the negative tail, but not for the positive tail. We also find that correlation is not related to market volatility per se but to the market trend. Correlation increases in bear markets, but not in bull markets.

Keywords: International equity markets; volatility; correlation and extreme value theory; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: F30; G15; (follow links to similar papers)

23 pages, April 1, 2000

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