DEFINITION of 'Skewness'

Describe asymmetry from the normal distribution in a set of statistical data. Skewness can come in the form of "negative skewness" or "positive skewness", depending on whether data points are skewed to the left (negative skew) or to the right (positive skew) of the data average.


Skewness is extremely important to finance and investing. Most sets of data, including stock prices and asset returns, have either positive or negative skew rather than following the balanced normal distribution (which has a skewness of zero). By knowing which way data is skewed, one can better estimate whether a given (or future) data point will be more or less than the mean.

Most advanced economic analysis models study data for skewness and incorporate this into their calculations. Skewness risk is the risk that a model assumes a normal distribution of data when in fact data is skewed to the left or right of the mean.

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