- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Crown Business; 2 edition (May 9, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0767923634
- ISBN-13: 978-0767923637
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 238 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #222,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Irrational Exuberance 2nd Edition
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“Robert Shiller has done more than any other economist of his generation to document the less rational aspects of financial markets.” — Paul Krugman
“A modern classic of ‘serious’ economics that demands to be read, and can be enjoyed, by the interested nonspecialist.” –The Economist
“A dose of realism that serious investors will ignore at their peril.” —The Wall Street Journal
“The point of Irrational Exuberance is not to help investors dump their houses before the current exuberance fades. It is to deepen our understanding of the events we are watching as one bubble gives birth to another.” —The International Herald Tribune
“Irrational Exuberance [is] a dazzling, richly textured, provocative book . . . offering a cogent statement of the bears’ view of events to come. Shiller is not merely a bear—he is a grizzly.” —BusinessWeek
About the Author
Robert J. Shiller is the Stanley B. Resor Professor of Economics at Yale University. He is the recipient of the 2000 Commonfund Prize, awarded for Best Contribution to Endowment Management Research, for Irrational Exuberance. He is also the author of Market Volatility and Macro Markets, which won the 1996 Paul A. Samuelson Award.
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Will history repeat itself with this third volume? That is hard to say. In this latest edition, Professor Shiller updates his argument, and augments the text to reflect developments since the 2005 second edition. Of particular interest, he adds an important new chapter on the bond market, which many feel is also in bubble territory. The good news is that, while Professor Shiller says that returns in all asset classes are likely to be subpar for some years given today's elevated asset prices, the mood is less somber than in previous editions, and there are no warnings of imminent doom, as in previous editions. In particular, he does not see a classic "bubble" in bonds, due to the lack of "exuberance" -- prices for bonds are being bid up reluctantly by investors, he says, which is not the formula for a bubble. However, he certainly balances that somewhat comforting news with a realistic view of the risks that the current situation presents to investors and savers of all types, stocks, bonds, housing, and savings accounts. His main piece of advice to all Americans concerned about their financial future may be the most sensible piece of financial advice ever written: spend less, save more! Yes, we all know that, but when the winner of the 2013 Nobel prize says that, it really means something.
I find Professor Shiller's writing style highly enjoyable, not at all like most economics books. The plain-spoken style is smart, wry, and often witty, and there are almost no mathematical formulas, except in the occasional technical notes in back. The book also talks about a lot of factors that are intrinsically interesting to non-economists. For example, it has chapters devoted cultural factors in investing; the effects of the news media; "new era" economic thinking; psychological factors; psychological anchors for the market and herd behavior.
Professor Shiller ends by offering a lot of good, commonsense advice to both policymakers and investors, large and small. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand what's behind the current anxiety, turmoil, and hopes, for a brighter financial future for all Americans.
Since then, bubbles have also burst in the housing market worldwide as well as the stock markets. In addition, commodity markets have taken on many of the speculative characteristics of equity and housing markets, characteristics that they have not had, at least to the extent of the equity and housing markets, in the past. Bubbles in these markets were not discussed in the first edition of the book. For this reason this reviewer purchased this edition of Dr. Schiller's book - to obtain historical perspective on the housing markets, equity markets since 2000 and commodity prices. The book, in short, provides very good historical perspective on the first two of these (housing and equity markets) but, unfortunately, not too much regarding commodity markets. It discusses long term trends and cyclical bubbles in their historical context. For this reason alone this book should be read by serious investors and students of both economics and finance. As Aristotle once said "A man with no perspective has no value".
In addition to providing historical context in regard to these markets, the book also does an excellent job at explaining, through the lens of economic psychology, why bubbles occur. The primary reason is that there is human interaction, that taken on the aggregate, influences the market as a whole. Factors influencing this psychology, that are discussed in some depth in the book (about a chapter each), include (not all inclusively) the optimism (usually unfounded) induced by new technologies (what Dr. Schiller refers to as "New Era Economic Thinking"), the role of the news media and the de-regionalization and globalization of these markets (housing markets historically were only regional within nations and equity markets, in general, were not global - this has changed since the mid-1990s though). Dr. Schiller does a very good job at showing how these primarily psychological factors have played a very important role in inflating and deflating bubbles. He does an excellent job at showing how these psychological factors have played a more important role that economic "fundamentals", as posited by the "rational expectations" school of macroeconomics and finance, are not able to explain credibly. Not that there are no other books available on the subject. John Auther's, writer for the Financial Times, does an excellent job at analyzing the role of psychological factors in bubbles albeit only those in equity markets (and with the emphasis being on institutional players in these markets) in his "The Fearful Rise of Markets: Global Bubbles, Synchronized Meltdowns, and How To Prevent Them in the Future". Dr. Schiller though drills down into more psychological (numerically) as well as analyzing these in detail. He also provides quite a few analogies that clarify his ideas (i.e., providing context in terms of research that shows how investor psychology very much mimics the spread of diseases).
All and all the book does an excellent job at examining these psychological factors. Where the book somewhat falls short, however, is in the solutions provided (the final chapter of the book). Many of the solutions provided by Dr. Schiller do not seem very capable of reducing the growth of bubbles. For example, he cites the use, by monetary authorities, of "gently" higher interest rates. He also mentions that persons in "responsible" positions point out the existence of bubbles to the public. Both of these, at least to this reviewer, seem particularly weak. Dr. Schiller also, more importantly, posits that hedging and shorting can also play a very important role but, simultaneously, he also points out the weaknesses in these (i.e., the market financial instruments may not exist, shorting itself may raise prices as to do this some investors [i.e., those offering the shorts for sale] must hold the relevant securities and this can have the effect of raising their prices, etc.). These factors greatly reduce the ability of short selling and hedging's ability to mitigate the size of bubbles.
Despite the problems cited in the last paragraph above, the book's historical perspective on equity and housing markets and its serious examination of psychological factors relevant to bubbles make it a very important book to read - especially for serious investors and students of economics and finance.