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.
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