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Systematic Risk

Introduction to Systematic Risk

Systematic risk, often referred to as market risk, volatility risk, or undiversifiable risk, is a type of risk that impacts the entire market or a broad market segment. Unlike risks that can be mitigated or diversified away, systematic risk affects all sectors, stocks, businesses, and, in essence, the entire economy. It arises from factors beyond the control of individual companies, such as economic, political, and social factors, making it non-diversifiable.

Types of Systematic Risk

Systematic risk manifests in various forms, each affecting the market in different ways:

  1. Market Risk: This risk is due to the collective behavior of investors, leading to fluctuations in security prices.
  2. Interest Rate Risk: Changes in market interest rates, particularly affecting fixed income securities like bonds.
  3. Exchange Rate Risk: Fluctuations in foreign currency values impact companies involved in foreign exchange transactions.
  4. Purchasing Power Risk: Also known as inflation risk, where the value of money decreases over time.
  5. Political Risk: Arising from political instability which can impact business decisions and the economy.
  6. Technological Risk: Associated with technological advancements that can disrupt business models.

Calculation of Systematic Risk

The beta (β) coefficient is a common measure used to calculate systematic risk. It determines the sensitivity of a security's return to the overall market return. The calculation involves:

  1. Collecting financial information of the asset for analysis.
  2. Selecting a market index as a benchmark (e.g., S&P 500).
  3. Calculating returns for the asset and the market index.
  4. Determining the covariance between the asset and market index returns.
  5. Calculating the beta as the ratio of covariance to the variance of the market index.

Reducing Systematic Risk

While systematic risk cannot be completely eliminated, certain strategies can mitigate its impact:

  • Asset Allocation: Diversifying the asset mix in a portfolio to balance risk and return.
  • Investment in Non-Correlated Assets: Including assets in the portfolio that do not correlate strongly with market movements.
  • Regular Investment: Investing small amounts regularly to minimize the impact of market volatility.
  • Long-Term Planning: Adopting a long-term investment strategy to ride out market fluctuations.
  • Staying Informed: Keeping abreast of market conditions to make timely decisions.
  • Professional Advice: Consulting with financial advisors or portfolio managers for expert risk management strategies.
  • Hedging: Using financial derivatives like options or inverse ETFs to offset potential losses.

Holistic View and Implications

Understanding systematic risk offers a holistic view of the economy's health and helps in identifying non-diversifiable risks. It plays a crucial role in risk management and serves as a foundation for various valuation models, like the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM).

Disadvantages of Systematic Risk

Systematic risk poses several challenges:

  • Mass Impact: It affects the entire economy, potentially leading to slowdowns or recessions.
  • Difficulty in Sector-Specific Analysis: The pervasive nature of systematic risk makes it challenging to isolate and analyze risks in specific sectors.
  • Varying Scale of Impact: The impact of systematic risk may differ across various sectors and businesses.


Systematic risk is an integral aspect of financial analysis and investment decision-making. Its understanding is crucial for developing effective risk management strategies and achieving long-term investment goals.