Excess kurtosis


Kurtosis measures the "fatness" of the tails of a distribution. Positive excess kurtosis means that distribution has fatter tails than a normal distribution. Fat tails means there is a higher than normal probability of big positive and negative returns realizations. When calculating kurtosis, a result of +3.00 indicates the absence of kurtosis (distribution is mesokurtic). For simplicity in its interpretation, some statisticians adjust this result to zero (i.e. kurtosis minus 3 equals zero), and then any reading other than zero is referred to as excess kurtosis. Negative numbers indicate a platykurtic distribution; positive numbers indicate a leptokurtic distribution.

Investing Essentials

Copyright © 2011 Campbell R. Harvey, Professor of Finance, Fuqua School of Business at Duke University

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