What sound does a volatile stock market make?

Kai Ryssdal and Alli Fam Mar 31, 2020
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Keystone/Getty Images

What sound does a volatile stock market make?

Kai Ryssdal and Alli Fam Mar 31, 2020
Keystone/Getty Images
Share Now on:
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The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked historic stock market volatility in recent weeks, coming on the heels of historic highs.

Maybe you’ve seen the graphs; a steady rise followed by a sharp drop that is now zig-zagging, up and down. That’s what the data looks like. But what might it sound like? Is there a way for us to actually hear how the market has gone from the steady highs of months ago to its current state?

Yes, there is. Thanks to Jordan Wirfs-Brock, an information science Ph.D student at the University of Boulder Colorado. Wirfs-Brock created a 12-second sonification of the stock market from Jan. 2, 2020 to March 27, 2020, where each second represents a week of trading. Using the Dow Jones Industrial Average market data, Wirfs-Brock focused on two metrics: the daily percentage change, to convey volatility and the daily closing price, to convey overall market movement.

Jordan called in from home to give “Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal a lesson in how to listen. For a more detailed lesson and explanation of the work behind the sonification, check out this Twitter thread

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