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Irrational Exuberance Audible – Abridged

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Editorial Reviews

In this bold and potentially urgent volume, Robert J. Shiller, a respected expert on market volatility, offers an unconventional interpretation of recent U.S. stock market highs and shows that Alan Greenspan's term "irrational exuberance" is a good description of the mood behind the market. He warns that poorer performance may be in the offing and tells us how we - as a society and individually - can respond.

Shiller credits an unprecedented confluence of events with driving stocks to uncharted heights. He analyzes the structural and psychological factors that explain why the Dow Jones Industrial Average tripled between 1994 and 1999, a level of growth not reflected in any other sector of the economy. In contrast to many analysts, Shiller stresses circumstances that alter investors' perceptions of the market. These include the entry of the Internet into American homes, the misimpression that the aging of the baby-boom generation builds long-term protection into the market, and herd behavior, such as day-trading. He also examines cultural factors, including sports-style media coverage of the Dow's ups and downs and "new era" thinking about the economy. He considers - and challenges - efforts to rationalize exuberance that are based on either efficient-markets theory, narrowly construed, or the claim that investors have only recently learned the true value of the market.

Irrational Exuberance is a must-listen for individual investors as well as investment professionals, pension-plan sponsors, and endowment managers everywhere. It will be studied by policy makers and anyone from Wall Street to Main Street who doesn't want to be caught sitting on the speculative bubble if (or when) it bursts.

Hear an exclusive interview with Robert J. Shiller.

Producer: Lisa Cahn
Original jacket design and illustration by Marek Antoniak
Jacket photo: Michael Marsland
©2000 Robert J. Shiller
(P) 2000 Random House, Inc

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

455 of 477 people found the following review helpful By Arnold Kling on March 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Robert Shiller argues that the stock market has experienced a bubble. He makes his case on the basis of a sober statistical judgement. However, in layman's terms, what he says boils down to, "If it walks like a duck, it is a duck." Demonstrating the absurdity of today's stock prices does not require clever statistical modeling.
This begs the question of why a bubble emerged in the late 1990's. Shiller discusses several cultural factors such as the ever-higher profile of the stock market in the media, including the Internet.
This begs the question of how it is possible for so many people wrongly to be optimistic about stocks. Shiller cites many findings in psychology, such as Asch Conformity, to explain how people can listen to others against their own best judgement.
This begs the question of whether it could be Shiller who is irrational. Shiller examines and refutes the arguments that pundits have made to rationalize exuberance.
There are three audiences for this book, all of whom will find it threatening.
1. Ordinary investors. You will not want to read this book, because it asks you to confront an issue that you would be more comfortable avoiding. However, once you do dive into it, you will be rewarded with sober facts and analysis that you can use to resist the siren calls of pundits, brokers, and friends to buy into the bubble.
I can assure you that Robert Shiller did not write this book to make his own fortune. The book jacket says nothing like "five strategies to survive the bubble," although he does mention some conservative investment alternatives. There certainly is no endorsement from Suze Orman or any of the other best-selling gurus that he swiftly skewers.
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70 of 72 people found the following review helpful By B.Sudhakar Shenoy on October 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I read the second edition of this book since it is enlarged with the study of the housing market. The phenomenon of bubbles and negative bubbles or collapses is described extremely well by means of statistical data of markets for over a century and a half. The raw data is adjusted to inflation to give a realistic perspective of the trends and patterns. Bubbles seem to be occurring at regular intervals typically based on the "new era" story and everyone believes at least during the heady days that good times are here to stay. But as shown by proven evidence of the past, no bubble has sustained itself permanently and good reason prevails sooner or later. When this happens, the bloated bubble collapses and the hangover is terrible. The story so far is quite simple. But what makes this book so interesting is the depth of research and the manner in which the phenomenon is studied and explained.

The combination of mass psychology and market prices is at the core of this book. For bubbles to happen, information flow is the key. Media plays a significant role in disseminating information and bubbles seem to have originated in recorded history after the advent of the print media. In recent times electronic media particularly the television and the internet play a significant role in speeding up bubble formation and also the reversals. Media needs a storyline and this story needs to be continued to retain customers on a daily basis. Stock market is the ideal place that offers an opportunity to try one's luck if a casino is far away. Backed by on-line dedicated news channels and internet trading, well, it is not surprising that we have day traders in herds. In such situations fundamentals like industry analysis and P/E ratios take a backseat as explained by the author.
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77 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Harvey S. Karten on March 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Robert J. Shiller's "Irrational Exuberance" is about the most bearish book you could ever read about the stock market. Filled with charts and graphs and footnotes of every description, the book--whose title comes from a quote by Alan Greenspan--attacks Wall Street ideas that have become so accepted that they are household sayings. The principal such idea is that securities have always been the best investments over the long run--beating out bonds, foreign currencies, rare stamps, gold and the like. Shiller points out quite a few examples of how market prices, principally the Dow, have remained pretty flat over some periods of 10, 20, 30 years when corrected for inflation. In some circumstances, you might have done better if you put your spare cash in the bank.
Of course the market has been a great place to stash your cash if you got in at the right time--in 1982, for example, at the very start of the longest-running bull market in history. But put your money there now at your own risk. Seventy-two percent of mutual fund managers believe that we're in a speculative bubble now, with the Dow, at 11,000, reaching for figures that far exceed the historic level which would put the rational figure at 6,000. Shiller would not be surprised if the Dow settled in at, say, 10,000--in the year 2020! And what's more, he'd not be astonished if the Dow sank to 6,000 in the near future.
I was convinced after reading Shiller. He has marshalled his facts in a carefully researched screed against following the sheep-like crowds and I have replaced the tens of millions I had invested in common stocks with far more secure, if less exciting, instruments.
Harvey S. Karten
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