Reblog: 9 books about financial markets you really should read


Earlier this week I wrote (again) about the importance of understanding financial market history. This prompted a few people to ask for some of my favourite books on the topic. Here goes:

Devil Take the Hindmost: A History of Financial Speculation

If I had to pick just one book to read on the topic, this would be the one. Edward Chancellor weaves history, psychology, and economics beautifully in what is also one of the better-named finance books I’ve come across.

The Panic of 1907: Lessons Learned From the Market’s Perfect Storm

The story behind the banking crisis most people probably aren’t familiar with. This book shows how primitive the financial markets were before banking regulations and the Fed came around.

The Great Depression: A Diary

This first-person account of what life was like during the Great Depression is not only a lesson in financial market history but also how difficult that period in history was for those living through it. I can’t recommend this one enough.

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Reblog: The Top 10 Biases of Emotional Investing


Emotions aren’t always your friend when it comes to investing. In fact, they can lead to trouble in some very specific ways…

Here’s today’s understatement of the year: emotion plays a major role in investing.

Whether it’s the gold rush leading to 2008’s crash, momentum trends that cause a stock to orbit its true value or the irrational exuberance of the 1990s, the stock market is filled with people who act like, well… human beings. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this has its strongest expression when it comes to individual investors.

That’s not always bad. Emotions come into any big decision, and it’s important to feel good about your portfolio. Emotions dictate risk tolerance, after all. The same goes for picking companies with a strong sense of mission. Those are the decisions that help you sleep at night.

The problems start when emotions become biases. That’s when you, as an investor, can make bad choices that don’t leave you personally or financially any better off. What do those biases look like? Here are the top ten to keep an eye out for the next time you open up the portfolio…

10. Overconfidence

Bias: Focusing on an actual or perceived expertise on a narrow slice of the market

Overconfidence isn’t necessarily what it sounds like. Yes, sometimes this bias is caused by an investor who knows less than he thinks. That guy who caught 15 minutes of “Mad Money” and then gives lectures at a dinner party is a classic example.

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The Financial threats that machines can see


The original article appears on BloombergView and is available here. The author is Mark Buchanan.

Who's watching whom?

Humans have a terrible track record of predicting financial crises in time to fend them off. Some computer scientists think that algorithms might help.

Given the right information, some crises can be foreseen. In “The Big Short,” Michael Lewis told the story of the scattered few who saw the imbalance growing in the mortgage market and profited as a result. Over decades, academic research has shown that many banking crises come with early warning signals, such as rapidly increasing debt and leverage. Yet economists and policy makers routinely miss such danger signs, in part because the financial world is so complex.

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