Adaptive Markets: Financial Evolution at the Speed of Thought

Princeton University Press
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A new, evolutionary explanation of markets and investor behavior

Half of all Americans have money in the stock market, yet economists can't agree on whether investors and markets are rational and efficient, as modern financial theory assumes, or irrational and inefficient, as behavioral economists believe—and as financial bubbles, crashes, and crises suggest. This is one of the biggest debates in economics and the value or futility of investment management and financial regulation hang on the outcome. In this groundbreaking book, Andrew Lo cuts through this debate with a new framework, the Adaptive Markets Hypothesis, in which rationality and irrationality coexist.

Drawing on psychology, evolutionary biology, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, and other fields, Adaptive Markets shows that the theory of market efficiency isn't wrong but merely incomplete. When markets are unstable, investors react instinctively, creating inefficiencies for others to exploit. Lo's new paradigm explains how financial evolution shapes behavior and markets at the speed of thought—a fact revealed by swings between stability and crisis, profit and loss, and innovation and regulation.

A fascinating intellectual journey filled with compelling stories, Adaptive Markets starts with the origins of market efficiency and its failures, turns to the foundations of investor behavior, and concludes with practical implications—including how hedge funds have become the Galápagos Islands of finance, what really happened in the 2008 meltdown, and how we might avoid future crises.

An ambitious new answer to fundamental questions in economics, Adaptive Markets is essential reading for anyone who wants to know how markets really work.

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About the author

Andrew W. Lo is the Charles E. and Susan T. Harris Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and director of the MIT Laboratory for Financial Engineering. He is the author of Hedge Funds and the coauthor of A Non-Random Walk Down Wall Street and The Econometrics of Financial Markets (all Princeton). He is also the founder of AlphaSimplex Group, a quantitative investment management company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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Additional Information

Princeton University Press
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Published on
Apr 24, 2017
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Business & Economics / Consumer Behavior
Business & Economics / Economics / General
Business & Economics / Economics / Theory
Business & Economics / Finance / General
Business & Economics / Forecasting
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Eligible for Family Library

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A New York Times Bestseller
An Economist Best Book of 2015

"The most important book on decision making since Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow."
—Jason Zweig, The Wall Street Journal
Everyone would benefit from seeing further into the future, whether buying stocks, crafting policy, launching a new product, or simply planning the week’s meals. Unfortunately, people tend to be terrible forecasters. As Wharton professor Philip Tetlock showed in a landmark 2005 study, even experts’ predictions are only slightly better than chance. However, an important and underreported conclusion of that study was that some experts do have real foresight, and Tetlock has spent the past decade trying to figure out why. What makes some people so good? And can this talent be taught?
In Superforecasting, Tetlock and coauthor Dan Gardner offer a masterwork on prediction, drawing on decades of research and the results of a massive, government-funded forecasting tournament. The Good Judgment Project involves tens of thousands of ordinary people—including a Brooklyn filmmaker, a retired pipe installer, and a former ballroom dancer—who set out to forecast global events. Some of the volunteers have turned out to be astonishingly good. They’ve beaten other benchmarks, competitors, and prediction markets. They’ve even beaten the collective judgment of intelligence analysts with access to classified information. They are "superforecasters."
In this groundbreaking and accessible book, Tetlock and Gardner show us how we can learn from this elite group. Weaving together stories of forecasting successes (the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound) and failures (the Bay of Pigs) and interviews with a range of high-level decision makers, from David Petraeus to Robert Rubin, they show that good forecasting doesn’t require powerful computers or arcane methods. It involves gathering evidence from a variety of sources, thinking probabilistically, working in teams, keeping score, and being willing to admit error and change course.

Superforecasting offers the first demonstrably effective way to improve our ability to predict the future—whether in business, finance, politics, international affairs, or daily life—and is destined to become a modern classic.
For over half a century, financial experts have regarded the movements of markets as a random walk--unpredictable meanderings akin to a drunkard's unsteady gait--and this hypothesis has become a cornerstone of modern financial economics and many investment strategies. Here Andrew W. Lo and A. Craig MacKinlay put the Random Walk Hypothesis to the test. In this volume, which elegantly integrates their most important articles, Lo and MacKinlay find that markets are not completely random after all, and that predictable components do exist in recent stock and bond returns. Their book provides a state-of-the-art account of the techniques for detecting predictabilities and evaluating their statistical and economic significance, and offers a tantalizing glimpse into the financial technologies of the future.

The articles track the exciting course of Lo and MacKinlay's research on the predictability of stock prices from their early work on rejecting random walks in short-horizon returns to their analysis of long-term memory in stock market prices. A particular highlight is their now-famous inquiry into the pitfalls of "data-snooping biases" that have arisen from the widespread use of the same historical databases for discovering anomalies and developing seemingly profitable investment strategies. This book invites scholars to reconsider the Random Walk Hypothesis, and, by carefully documenting the presence of predictable components in the stock market, also directs investment professionals toward superior long-term investment returns through disciplined active investment management.

The Heretics of Finance provides extraordinary insight into both the art of technical analysis and the character of the successful trader. Distinguished MIT professor Andrew W. Lo and researcher Jasmina Hasahodzic interviewed thirteen highly successful, award-winning market professionals who credit their substantial achievements to technical analysis. The result is the story of technical analysis in the words of the people who know it best; the lively and candid interviews with these gurus of technical analysis.

The first half of the book focuses on the technicians' careers: How and why they learned technical analysis What market conditions increase their chances of making mistakes What their average workday is like To what extent trading controls their lives Whether they work on their own or with a team How their style of technical analysis is unique 

The second half concentrates on technical analysis and addresses questions such as these:

Did the lack of validation by academics ever cause you to doubt technical analysis? Can technical analysis be applied to other disciplines? How do you prove the validity of the method? How has computer software influenced the craft? What is the role of luck in technical analysis? Are there laws that underlie market action? What traits characterize a highly successful trader? How do you test patterns before you start using them with real money?

Interviewees include:
Ralph J. Acampora, Laszlo Birinyi, Walter Deemer, Paul Desmond, Gail Dudack, Robert J. Farrell, Ian McAvity, John Murphy, Robert Prechter, Linda Raschke, Alan R. Shaw, Anthony Tabell, Stan Weinstein.

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