In this morning’s NYT, Joe Nocera takes on one of my favorite subjects: Why the market is neither rational nor efficient.
He does a nice job, interviewing both Jeremy Grantham and Burton Malkiel. Along the way, he mentions Justin Fox’s new book, The Myth of the Rational Market: A History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street.
“In the last decade, the efficient market hypothesis, which had been near dogma since the early 1970s, has taken some serious body blows. First came the rise of the behavioral economists, like Richard H. Thaler at the University of Chicago and Robert J. Shiller at Yale, who convincingly showed that mass psychology, herd behavior and the like can have an enormous effect on stock prices — meaning that perhaps the market isn’t quite so efficient after all. Then came a bit more tangible proof: the dot-com bubble, quickly followed by the housing bubble. Quod erat demonstrandum.
These days, you would be hard-pressed to find anybody, even on the University of Chicago campus, who would claim that the market is perfectly efficient. Yet Mr. Grantham, who was a critic of the efficient market hypothesis long before such criticism was in vogue, has hardly been mollified by its decline. In his view, it did a lot of damage in its heyday — damage that we’re still dealing with. How much damage? In Mr. Grantham’s view, the efficient market hypothesis is more or less directly responsible for the financial crisis.
I prefer Res Ipsa Loquitur, but hey, its all Latin to me.
I am about halfway through The Myth of the Rational Market, and so far, its good wonky fun. (Justin, there’s your pull quote: good wonky fun“). When I’m finished, I will post a review, though I expect my experience in writing a book to have eliminated all objectivity when it comes to reviewing other books.
Poking Holes in a Theory on Markets
NYT, June 5, 2009