Back in August 2007, the Chief Financial Officer of Goldman Sachs, David Viniar, commented to the Financial Times: “We are seeing things that were 25-standard deviation moves, several days in a row.”
To provide some context, assuming a normal distribution, a 7.26-sigma daily loss would be expected to occur once every 13.7 billion or so years. That is roughly the estimated age of the universe. A 25-sigma event would be expected to occur once every 6 x 10124 lives of the universe. That is quite a lot of human histories.
When I tried to calculate the probability of a 25-sigma event occurring on several successive days, the lights visibly dimmed over London and, in a scene reminiscent of that Little Britain sketch, the computer said “No.”
Fortunately, there is a simpler explanation – the model was wrong.