Wednesday, April 20, 2005

"Irrational Exuberance: Second Ediiton" by Robert J. Shiller

The first edition predicted the collapse of the dot com bubble, the new second edition bodes ill for the current real estate boom. Schiller is skeptical about the "efficient markets" hypothesis, skepticism which has proved well-founded. Pity, I liked that theory! His professor at MIT was the late Charles Kindleberger. I sat in on Kindleberger's International Economics class when I was at MIT, it was great. Schiller doesn't really offer much to replace the "efficient markets" concept, he mentions feedback several times, but doesn't really develop that much in the book - perhaps he does in his more scholarly work, which I haven't really dipped into. But the book is entertaining, lots of data and graphs, but not overwhelmingly quantitative.
The classic on this topic dates from 1841, Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness Of Crowds by Charles MacKay. It discusses the Dutch Tulip mania, the South Sea Bubble and various financial scams and frauds of those days. Still worth reading today.

Princeton Press
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