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Friday, May 16, 2008

Bernanke's Bubble Laboratory (from the WSJ)

There's a great article on the front page today's Wall Street Journal titled "Bernanke's Bubble Laboratory" about three economists at Princeton (Harrison Hong, Wei Xiong, and Markus Brunnermeier) who were hired by Bernanke prior to his becoming Fed Chief. They do research on market bubbles.

This one's a keeper, and will probably end up being discussed in a lot of investment and markets classes. It does a pretty good job of laying out some of their research. Here are a smattering of things these three have found that are discussed in the article:
  • Major innovations (or big changes) like the rise of the Internet in the mid/late 1990s and the recent credit innovations cause large disagreements between investors about fundamental valuations. Difficulties and costs associated with shorting overvalued stocks allows the most bullish investors to drive prices.
  • In markets with fewer shares available (like China's A/B shares markets), optimists can really push the prices up
  • Skeptics that might drive prices back down won't move in a booming market until they're pretty sure other skeptics will also be on board. So, when the "pessimists" finally start moving, prices can drop much more quickly than they rose.
All in all, a worthy piece, and one that's digestible by people without a graduate degree in finance. Read it here (pay subscription may be required).

Gotta go - classes are done, grades have been handed in, and I have CFA to study for and my own research to work on. It may not be focused on bubbles, but I still like it...

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