# LOGNORMAL MODEL FOR STOCK PRICES

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1 LOGNORMAL MODEL FOR STOCK PRICES MICHAEL J. SHARPE MATHEMATICS DEPARTMENT, UCSD 1. INTRODUCTION What follows is a simple but important model that will be the basis for a later study of stock prices as a geometric Brownian motion. Let denote the price of some stock at time t = 0. We then follow the stock price at regular time intervals t = 1, t = 2,..., t = n. Let S t denote the stock price at time t. For example, we might start time running at the close of trading Monday, March 29, 2004, and let the unit of time be a trading day, so that t = 1 corresponds to the closing price Tuesday, March 30, and t = 5 corresponds to the price at the closing price Monday, April 5. The model we shall use for the random evolution of the the price process, S 1,..., S n is that for 1 k n, S k = S k 1 X k, where the X k are strictly positive and IID i.e., independent, identically distributed. We shall return to this model after the next section, where we set down some reminders about normal and related distributions. 2. PROPERTIES OF THE NORMAL AND LOGNORMAL DISTRIBUTIONS First of all, a random variable Z is called standard normal or N 0, 1, for short, if its density function f Z z is given by the standard normal density function φz :== e z2 /2. The function z z := φudu denotes the distribution function of a standard normal variable, so an equivalent condition is that the distribution function also called the cdf of Z satisfies F Z z = P Z z = z. You should recall that φz d z = 1 i.e., φ is a probability density zφz d z = 0 with mean 0 z 2 φz d z = 1 and second moment 1. In particular, if Z is N 0, 1, then the mean of Z, E Z = 0 and the second moment of Z, E Z 2 = 1. In particular, the variance V Z = E Z 2 E Z 2 = 1. Recall that standard deviation is the square root of variance, so Z has standard deviation 1. More generally, a random variable V has a normal distribution with mean µ and standard deviation > 0 provided Z := V µ/ is standard normal. We write for short V N µ, 2. It s easy to check that in this case, E V = µ and VarV = 2. There are three essential facts you should remember when working with normal variates. Theorem 2.4. Let V 1,...,V k be independent, with each V j N µ j, 2 j. Then V V k N µ µ k, k. Theorem 2.5. Central Limit Theorem: If a random variable V may be expressed a sum of independent variables, each of small variance, then the distribution of V is approximately normal. This statement of the CLT is very loose, but a mathematically correct version involves more than you are assumed to know for this course. The final point to remember is a few special cases, assuming V N µ, P V µ 0.68; P V µ ; P V µ 3 399/400. 1

2 2 MICHAEL J. SHARPE MATHEMATICS DEPARTMENT, UCSD We ll say that a random variable X = expz + µ, where Z N 0, 1, is lognormalµ, 2. Note that the parameters µ and are the mean and standard deviation respectively of log X. Of course, Z + µ N µ, 2, by definition. The parameter µ affects the scale by the factor expµ, and we ll see below that the parameter affects the shape of the density in an essential way. Proposition 2.7. Let X be lognormalµ, 2. Then the distribution function F X and the density function f X of X are given by 2.8 F X x = P X x = P log X log x = P Z + µ log x = P Z log x µ log x µ =, x > f X x = d φ d x F X x = log x µ x, x > 0. These permit us to work out a formulas for the moments of X. First of all, for any positive integer k, E X k = 0 x k f X x d x = 0 x k φ log x µ hence after making the substitution x = expz + mu, so that d x = expz + µ, we find 2.10 E X k = 1 e z2 2 +kz+kµ d z = 1 x d x e 1 2 z k2 + k2 2 +kµ d z = e k kµ. We completed the square in the exponent, then used the fact that by a trivial substitution, φz ad z = 1. In particular, setting k = 1 and k = 2 give 2.11 E X = e 2 2 +µ ; E X 2 = e 22 +2µ ; V X = E X 2 E X 2 = e 2 +2µ e 2 1. The median of X which continues to be assumed lognormalµ, 2 is that x such that F X x = 1/2. By 2.8, this is the same as requiring = 1/2, hence that = 0, and so log x = µ, or x = e µ. That is, log x µ log x µ 2.12 X has median e µ. The two theorems above for normal variates have obvious counterparts for lognormal variates. We ll state them somewhat informally as: Theorem A product of independent lognormal variates is also lognormal with respective parameters µ = µ j and 2 = 2 j. Theorem A random variable which is a product of a large number of independent factors, each close to 1, is approximately lognormal. Here is a sampling of lognormal densities with µ = 0 and varying over {.25,.5,.75, 1.00, 1.25, 1.}.

3 LOGNORMAL MODEL FOR STOCK PRICES 3 Some lognormal densities The smaller values correspond to the rightmost peaks, and one sees that for smaller, the density is close to the normal shape. If you think about modeling men s heights, the first thing one thinks about is modeling with a normal distribution. One might also consider modeling with a lognormal, and if we take the unit of measurement to be inches the average height of men, then the standard deviation will be quite small, in those units, and we ll find little difference between those particular normal and lognormal densities. 3. LOGNORMAL PRICE MODEL We continue now with the model described in the introduction: S k = S k 1 X k. The first natural question here is which specific distributions should be allowed for the X k. Let s suppose we follow stock prices not just at the close of trading, but at all possible t 0, where the unit of t is trading days, so that, for example, t = 1.3 corresponds to.3 of the way through the trading hours of Wednesday, March 31. Note that S 1 = S 1 S.5 S.5, and under the time homogeneity postulated above, one should suppose that S 1 S.5 and S.5 are IID. Continuing in this way, we see that for any positive integer m, setting h = 1/m, where the factors S kh S k 1h S 1 = S mh S m 1h... S h S m 1h S m 2h are IID. Consequently, taking logarithms, we find S1 logx 1 = log = m k =1 Skh log S k 1h so that for arbitrarily large m, log X 1 may be represented as the sum of m IID random variables. In view of the Central Limit Theorem, under mild additional conditions for example, if log X 1 has finite variance, then log X 1 must have a normal distribution. Therefore, it is reasonable to hypothesize that the X k are lognormal, and we may write X k = expz k + µ, where the Z k are IID standard normal. The first issue is the estimation of the parameters µ and from data. The thing you need to recall is that if you have a sample of n IID normal variates Y 1,...,Y n with unknown mean µ and unknown standard deviation, Yk Ȳ 2 then the sample mean Ȳ := Y 1+ +Y n n is an unbiased estimator of µ and n 1 is an unbiased estimator of 2. If we denote by Y 2 the mean value of the Y 2, it is elementary algebra to verify that 3.1 k Yk Ȳ 2 n 1 = n Y n 1 2 Ȳ 2.

4 4 MICHAEL J. SHARPE MATHEMATICS DEPARTMENT, UCSD When n is large, the factor n/n 1 is close to 1, and may be ignored. Be aware that when Excel computes the variance VAR of a list of numbers y 1 through y n, it uses this formula. So, if we have a sample of stock prices through S n, we compute the n ratios X 1 := S 1 through X n := S n S n 1 and then set Y k := log X k. In the financial literature, R k := S k S k 1 S = k 1 X k 1 is called the return for the k th day. In practice, X k is quite close to 1 most of the time, and so Y k is mostly close to 0. For this reason, since log1 + z is close to z when z is small, Y k is mostly very close to the return R k. Apply the estimators described above to estimate µ by Ȳ and 2 by formula 3.1. This kind of calculation can be conveniently handled by an Excel spreadsheet, or a computer algebra system such as Mathematica T M. Stock price data is available online, for example at Spreadsheet files of stock price histories may be downloaded from that site in CSV comma separated value format, which may be imported from Excel or Mathematica T M. The parameters µ and arising from this stock price model are called the drift and volatility respectively. The idea is that stocks price movement is governed by a deterministic exponential growth rate µ, though subject to random fluctation whose magnitude is governed by. The following picture of Qualcomm stock QCOM over roughly the last nine months is shown in the following picture, along with the deterministic growth rate e kµ. You might at this point check out the last page of this handout, where I ve graphed the result of 10 simulations starting at the same initial price, but using independent lognormal multipliers with the same drift and volatility as this data The graph below shows a plot of the values log X j versus time j, along with a horizontal red line at their mean µ and horizontal green lines at levels µ ± 2. Note that of the 199 points in the plot, only 7 are outside these levels. This is not far from the roughly 5% of outliers you would expect, based on the normal frequencies.

5 LOGNORMAL MODEL FOR STOCK PRICES The empirical cdf of the log X k is pictured next in red compared with a normal cdf having the estimated µ and The following is only for those who already know about such matters. To test whether the log X k are normal, one computes the maximal difference D between the empirical cdf and the normal cdf with the estimated µ and using the n = 199 data. Then nd has a known approximate distribution under the null hypothesis, and approximately, 3.2 P nd > 1.22 =.1, P nd > 1.36 =.05, P nd > 1.63 =.01. In our case, the observed value of nd is about 1.06, which is not sufficient to reject the null hypothesis at any reasonable level. We emphasize that the justifications given here are quite crude. In particular, the hypothesized independence of the day to day returns is difficult to reconcile with the well known herd mentality of stock investors. There is an extensive literature on models for stock prices that are much more sophisticated, though of course less easy

6 6 MICHAEL J. SHARPE MATHEMATICS DEPARTMENT, UCSD to work with. From the point of view of the mathematical modeler, a mathematically simple model that yields approximately correct insights is certainly worthwhile, though one should always keep its limitations in mind. Finally, here is the simulated stock price based on the same initial price as the earlier graph of QCOM, but using independent lognormal multipliers with the same drift and volatility as the QCOM data. 4. A CONTINUOUS TIME VERSION OF THE LOGNORMAL MODEL This time, we take the postulates from the beginning of the last section, and enhance them a bit so that the time parameter t may take any positive real value. It is in this application supposed to be a clock that ticks only

7 LOGNORMAL MODEL FOR STOCK PRICES 7 during stock trading hours. We suppose S t represents the dollar value of a particular stock at time t. Here are the spruced up hypotheses. Definition 4.1. We shall say that the stock price process S t > 0 follows a lognormal model provided the following conditions hold. 4.2 For all s, t 0, the random variable S t+s /S t has a distribution depending only on s, not on t. Loosely speaking, a stock should have the same chance of going up 10% in the next hour, no matter what time we start at. 4.3 For any n, if we consider the process S t at the times 0 < t 1 < < t n, the ratios S t1 /, S t2 /S t1 through S tn /S tn 1 are mutually independent. Loosely speaking, a prediction of the stock price percentage increase from time t n 1 to time t n should not be influenced by knowledge of the actual percentage increases during any preceding periods. Let s examine the consequences of this definition. First of all, arguing just as in the preceding section, the distribution of S t / is necessarily lognormal with some parameters µ t, 2 t. Let us define µ := µ 1 and 2 := 2 1, so that S 1 / is lognormal µ, 2. Now, for any integer m > 0 S 1 = S 1/m S 2/m S 1/m... S m/m S m 1/m and by the first hypothesis in the definition, all the random variables on the right side have the same distribution, namely lognormal µ 1/m, 2 1/m. Moreover, by the second condition in the definition, they are mutually independent. As a product of independent lognormals is also lognormal, and the parameters add, we have Consequently, Similarly, we may write and deduce by the same reasoning that Writing this another way, we have proved that µ = mµ 1/m ; 2 = m 2 1/m. µ 1/m = 1 m µ; 2 1/m = 1 m 2. S k/m = S 1/m S 2/m S 1/m... S k/m S k 1/m µ k/m = k m µ; 2 k/m = k m 2. µ t = t µ; 2 t = t 2 for t of the form k/m. As the integers k, m > 0 are completely arbitrary, it follows with some mild but unspecified assumption that in fact 4.4 µ t = t µ; 2 t = t 2 for t > 0. As a consequence, we have shown: Proposition 4.5. If S t satisfies Definition 4.1, then a S 1 / lognormal with some parameters µ, 2 ; b S t+s /S t is then lognormal sµ, s 2. We further analyze this process by studying its natural logarithm V t := log S t /. The new process V t clearly has the following properties: 4.6 V 0 = log / = 1; 4.7 V t N t µ, t 2 ; 4.8 V t+s V t = log S t+s /S t N sµ, s 2, and so has the same distribution as V s ; 4.9 If 0 < t 1 < < t n, then V t1, V t2 V t1 through V tn V tn 1 are independent.

8 8 MICHAEL J. SHARPE MATHEMATICS DEPARTMENT, UCSD We make one further algebraic simplification, setting B V t := t t µ, so that the process Bt has the following properties: 4.10 B 0 = 1; 4.11 B t+s B t N 0, s, and so has the same distribution as B s ; 4.12 If 0 < t 1 < < t n, then B t1, B t2 B t1 through B tn B tn 1 are independent. A process B t, defined for t 0, satisfing these conditions is called a standard Brownian motion. It may be proved quite tricky proof, though that the process may also be assumed to have continuous sample paths. That is, we may assume that for every ω, t B t ω is continuous. There is a substantial literature available based on this mathematical model of Brownian motion, and the methods developed to study it are fundamental to the study of mathematical finance at a more advanced level. Now let s go back and write V t = t µ + B t. That is, the process V t has a uniform drift component t µ and a scaled Brownian component B t. Finally, we express S t in terms of B t by S t = exp V t = exp t µ + Bt. It is a consequence of this representation that for any t, s 0, we have 4.13 S t+s S t = exp sµ + B t+s B t. 5. A BLACK SCHOLES FORMULA We now have all the tools available to perform a simple calculation that will prove to solve one of the option pricing problems to be studied later. We assume that the stock price process S t satisfies 4.13, with given drift µ and volatility. Fix x > 0, T > 0 and let s = denote the price at time 0. We shall prove that 5.1 E S T x + = se T µ+2 /2 logs/x + T µ T + T x logs/x + T µ T. We have E S T x + = EhS T /, where hy := sy x +, which vanishes for y < x/s and takes the value sy x for y x/s. In view of 4.13, writing B T = T Z where Z N 0, 1, we have S T / = expt µ + T Z, so that E S T x + = EhS T / = E expτz + ν x + ; τ := T ; ν := T µ + logs. From this we may calculate, since e τz +ν x 0 if and only if Z E S T x + = w e τz+ν x e z2 /2 d z; log x ν τ, w := log x ν. τ The latter integral expands to e τz+ν e z2 /2 e z2 /2 d z x d z. w w The second term reduces at once to x1 w = x w, and the first terms permits a completion of the square in the exponent to give Changing the variable u := z τ reduces this to w e ν+τ2 /2 w τ e τz+ν e z2 /2 d z = e ν+τ2 /2 w e z τ2 /2 d z. e u2 /2 d u = e ν+τ2 /2 1 w τ = e ν+τ2 /2 τ w.

9 Taking these components together yields finally LOGNORMAL MODEL FOR STOCK PRICES E S T x + = e ν+τ2 /2 τ w x w, logs/x +T µ and after substituting back for τ, ν, and noting that w =, this amounts precisely what was claimed T in 5.1. We shall show later, based on a no arbitrage argument, that if the bank interest rate is r, then 5.3 µ = r. If we substitute µ = r 2 /2 into 5.1, we find 5.4 E S T x + = se Tr logs/x + T r 2 /2 T + T x logs/x + T r 2 /2 T. Even without the argument based on no arbitrage, a simple argument may be given for 5.3. First of all, let s switch to stock prices based on present value, which is to say that we take the interest rate r to be the rate of inflation, fix a present time t = t 0, and let U t := e r t t 0 S t denote the price of stock measured in dollars as of time t 0. If, as in the preceding discussion, S t /S t0 is a lognormal process with drift µ and volatility, say with B denoting a standard Brownian motion then U t S t S t0 = e B t t0 +µt t 0, = e B t t0 +µ r t t0, U t0 so that in fact, U t /U t0 is again a lognormal with the same volatility, but with drift µ r. However, in the financial world in which U t represents a stock price, the interest rate is effectively 0. By our formula for the lognormal mean, we have E U t U t0 = e t t 2 0µ r+ /2. Fix t > t 0. If µ r + 2 /2 > 0, we would have E U t U > t 0, so a stock investment would be guaranteed to lead 0 greater wealth over the long run by the law of large numbers. This is not consistent with the reality of a market. Similarly, if µ r + 2 /2 < 0, a long term loss would be guaranteed, and no rational person would invest. For these reasons, one should assume that 5.3 is valid. A no arbitrage argument depends on knowing more about trading possibilities, which we have not yet studied.

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