Document Type


Date of Original Version



Environmental and Natural Resource Economics


Purpose: Turvey (2007, Physica A) introduced a scaled variance ratio procedure for testing the random walk hypothesis (RWH) for financial time series by estimating Hurst coefficients for a fractional Brownian motion model of asset prices. The purpose of this paper is to extend his work by making the estimation procedure robust to heteroskedasticity and by addressing the multiple hypothesis testing problem.

Design/methodology/approach: Unbiased, heteroskedasticity consistent, variance ratio estimates are calculated for end of day price data for eight time lags over 12 agricultural commodity futures (front month) and 40 US equities from 2000-2014. A bootstrapped stepdown procedure is used to obtain appropriate statistical confidence for the multiplicity of hypothesis tests. The variance ratio approach is compared against regression-based testing for fractionality.

Findings: Failing to account for bias, heteroskedasticity, and multiplicity of testing can lead to large numbers of erroneous rejections of the null hypothesis of efficient markets following an independent random walk. Even with these adjustments, a few futures contracts significantly violate independence for short lags at the 99 percent level, and a number of equities/lags violate independence at the 95 percent level. When testing at the asset level, futures prices are found not to contain fractional properties, while some equities do.

Research limitations/implications: Only a subsample of futures and equities, and only a limited number of lags, are evaluated. It is possible that multiplicity adjustments for larger numbers of tests would result in fewer rejections of independence.

Originality/value: This paper provides empirical evidence that violations of the RWH for financial time series are likely to exist, but are perhaps less common than previously thought.