MENA markets; Efficiency; Crises; Asymmetric MF-DFA
Purpose: This paper examines asymmetric multifractality (A-MF) in the leading Middle East and North Africa (MENA) stock markets under different turbulent periods (global financial crisis [GFC] and European sovereign debt crisis [ESDC], oil price crash and COVID-19 pandemic). Design/methodology/approach: This study applies the asymmetric multifractal detrended fluctuation analysis (A-MF-DFA) method of Cao et al. (2013) to identify A-MF and MENA stock market efficiency during the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings: The results show strong evidence of different patterns of MF during upward and downward trends. Inefficiency is higher during upward trends than during downward trends in most of the stock markets in the whole sample period, and the opposite is true during financial crises. The Turkish stock market is the least inefficient during upward and downward trends. A-MF intensifies with an increase in scales. The evolution of excessive A-MF for MENA stock returns is heterogeneous. Most of the stock markets are more inefficient during a pandemic crisis than during an oil crash and other financial crises. However, the inefficiency of the Saudi Arabia and Qatar stock markets is highly sensitive to oil price crashes. Overall, the level of inefficiency varies across market trends, scales and stock markets and over time. The findings of this study provide investors and policymakers with valuable insights into efficient investment strategies, risk management and financial stability. Originality/value: This paper first explores A-MF in the MENA emerging stock markets. The A-MF analysis provides useful information to investors regarding asset allocation, portfolio risk management and investment strategies during bullish and bearish market states. In addition, this paper examines A-MF under different turbulent periods, such as the GFC, the ESDC, the 2014–2016 oil crash and the COVID-19 pandemic.