Volatility is how quickly and how far data points spread out.
Asymmetric is not identical on both sides, imbalanced, unequal, lacking symmetry.
This time of year we are reminded of asymmetric volatility in the weather. The wide range in the temperature is highlighted in the morning news.
This morning, it’s 72 degrees and sunny down south and below freezing and snowing up north.
Some of the news media presents the variation in a way that invites relative thinking. Just like the financial news programs that show what has gained and lost the most today, the weather shows the extreme highs and lows.
Those who watch the financial news may feel like they missed out on the stock or market that gained the most, then be glad they weren’t in one that lost the most. Some feelings may be more asymmetric: they feel one more than the other.
Prospect Theory says most of us feel a loss much greater that we do a gain. It’s another asymmetry: losses hurt more than gains feel good (loss aversion).
If you are up north trying to stay warm, you may wish you were down south sitting on the beach.
If you are down south trying to stay cool, you may wish you were up north playing in the snow!
It really doesn’t matter how extreme the difference is (the volatility). The volatility is what it is. Volatility is just a range.
What matters is what we want to experience.
If we want to experience snow we can fly up north.
If we want to experience sunny warmth we can fly down south.
If we want less volatility, we could live down south in the winter and up north in the summer.
We get to decide what we experience.