The Stop-Loss Myth

I’m sure everyone has been presented with the following logic: put in a ‘stop-loss’ at some arbitrary amount, say losing 1%. Then, your payoff distribution is tilted towards infinity, as shown above. It’s like the idea of going to Vegas, and saying you will stop when you lose $500, so you think that you still have an equal chance of generating those +$500 and up numbers, and the bad outcomes are just truncated at -$500. Alas, it doesn’t work like the graphs above. Instead, it generates the graph below, with a lot of probability mass at the stop-loss point:

From a nice little paper by Detko, Ma and Morito (2008).

About Eric Falkenstein 136 Articles

Eric Falkenstein is an economist who specializes in quantitative issues in finance: risk management, long/short equity investing, default modeling, etc.

Eric received his Ph.D. in Economics from Northwestern University , 1994 and his B.A. in Economics from Washington University in St. Louis, 1987

He is the author of the 2009 book Finding Alpha.

Visit: Eric Falkenstein's Website

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