Large distributed multiagent systems are characterized by vast numbers
of agents trying to gain access to limited resources in an unpredictable
environment. Agents in these system continously switch strategies in
order to opportunistically find improvements in their utilities. We have
analyzed the fluctuations around equilibrium that arise from strategy
switching and discovered the existence of a new phenomenon. It consists
of the appearance of sudden bursts of activity that punctuate the fixed
point, and is due to an effective random walk consistent with overall
stability. This clustered volatility is followed by relaxation to the
fixed point but with different strategy mixes from the previous one.
This phenomenon is quite general for systems in which agents explore
strategies in search of local improvements.