Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ Free Shipping
+ Free Shipping
The End of Theory: Financial Crises, the Failure of Economics, and the Sweep of Human Interaction Hardcover – May 2, 2017
|New from||Used from|
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
"Important and elegantly written."--Jason Zweig, Wall Street Journal
"The End of Theory holds some important lessons for financial markets today. . . . According to Bookstaber, it's time to stop tweaking a 150-year-old model that seems to be getting worse, not better, at predicting crises, and embrace something totally new. Finally, and perhaps most usefully, he challenges the economics profession itself, where too many experts still have way too much faith in their own mathematical infallibility."--Rana Faroohar, Financial Times
"[A]nyone who wants to understand the workings of
the financial system will benefit from reading this book. . . . The analysis is top-notch."--The Economist
"This book sets out to be a breezy but erudite, addition to the list of volumes on what is wrong with economics and how to fix it."--Peter Morris, Financial World
"Bookstaber himself is a practitioner of agent-based modeling as applied to financial markets, and his description of this approach in the latter part of his book is its most interesting section."--Diane Coyle, Project Syndicate
"What makes The End of Theory unusual among critiques of the genre is that Bookstaber makes a case for an interesting alternative approach, called agent-based modeling (ABM)."--Arnold Kling, Econlib
"Bookstaber has done a great job of exposing the flaws in dominant economic theories. For anyone concerned with these issues, [The End of Theory] is well worth reading."--John Quiggin, Inside Story
"Bookstaber slams the economic models. . . . Bookstaber, who spent his career on Wall Street, argues these should be replaced by ‘agent-based' models that incorporate the herd behaviour readily observed in financial crises across all countries through time."--Adam Creighton, The Australian
"[The End of Theory] is a suggestive, if not convincing, representation of agent-based modeling possibilities."--Choice
"Richard Bookstaber is well placed to discuss the topic. . . . The End of Theory is relevant to anyone working in the financial industry. . . . All investment professionals will gain useful insights from this rewarding book."--Financial Analysts Journal
From the Back Cover
"Erudite, fun to read, and sure to be a classic, The End of Theory discards the standard paradigms of economics. Financial crises, Bookstaber argues, are best modeled as they occur in reality: the heuristic interactions of humans in a complex environment."--Darrell Duffie, Stanford University
"Greg Mankiw said a decade ago, ‘The fact that modern macroeconomic research is not widely used in practical policymaking is prima facie evidence that it is of little use for this purpose.' In The End of Theory, Richard Bookstaber explains why this is so, and presents an alternative to change this situation. Showing that agent-based modeling provides a way of recognizing patterns that emerge as economic crises develop, Bookstaber's approach should help dampen crises and their impacts. What could be more important?"--Alan Kirman, director of studies, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales and emeritus professor of economics, Aix-Marseille University
"Seeking to reorient economics research, this ambitious book outlines a strong alternative approach based on agent-based computational models. With a lively and engaging style, Bookstaber reveals a deep knowledge of several fields, including mathematics and computer science, and a practical understanding of the financial sector. His book is fun to read, pedagogically brilliant, and deeply erudite."--Rajiv Sethi, Barnard College
"This impressive book ties together important insights from several disciplines―from science and philosophy to literature―and applies them to questions of financial stability and economic modeling. From this in-depth perspective, Bookstaber offers readers a great deal of useful information about the 2008 financial crisis and stresses how ripples of events tracked across the system."--Blake LeBaron, Brandeis University
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Agent-based modeling leads into a discussion of emergent phenomena, macro level effects that are not the intention or forecast of any individual agent. Here too the phenomena are strictly relevant to finance, both from observation of past crises and reasoning about potential future ones. Another feature of agent-based modeling is non-ergodicity, and fancy way of saying that sometimes the dice change in between rolls. Finance and other human interactions do not display the mild randomness of the casino, where all outcomes and probabilities are known in advance, and in the long run the house wins its expected amount.
The author stresses that we cannot predict future crises from past ones, because we have no idea what will spark the next disaster. Personally, I would emphasize that people will react differently to the next spark because of what happened the last time--while there are an infinite number of bad things that can happen, there's a fairly small number of ways they usually work out. For example, we know that financial disasters are usually accompanied by credit contractions. You don't need to guess what's going to cause the next crisis to make sure you're prepared for credit disappearing. But this is a point of detail, I certainly agree that preparing for the last crisis is a poor approach to risk management.
The result of all this is radical uncertainty. The only way to predict the future is to live it. The author claims there are no mathematical or analytic shortcuts. Here I think he overstates the case a little. There are top-down, equilibrium forces that have strong influences on events. They do not seem important at the height of the crisis, but they do matter. During a hurricane, it's foolish to say that air pressure has to equalize so there's no need to worry about the wind. But it's not foolish to reason from simple physics that it takes energy to maintain differences in air pressure, and so the hurricane will eventually run down.
While reading this book, I was reminded of Tetsuo Takashima's novel Tsunami. Written six years before the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake, it posited a larger-than-forecast tsunami inundating a nuclear power plant. The hero quits his promising academic career predicting earthquakes to take a low level municipal job in disaster preparedness, and spends his time developing a simple computer application to link up local officials. He runs scenarios from the bottom up, not to guess when or where a tsunami will hit, but to react appropriately after one does. The tsunami predictions are worse than useless. After a shock, all transport and nuclear plants are shut down. Since it's summer and work is canceled and there's limited air conditioning, after a few days of no disaster, people all go to the beach, just in time for the big wave. Unless you can predict with high confidence well ahead of time, you do more harm than good. But bottom-up preparedness based on running many simulations with the people who know local conditions and will be making decisions in the crisis, do tremendous good, whenever the disaster strikes and whatever specific form it takes.
The author keeps the book interesting for non-specialists by not getting into the technical details of how risk managers attempt to do these things. We're more likely to say we're doing "scenario analysis" than agent-based modeling, but it's the same idea, if a bit less fancy. You work out as many macro scenarios as you can think of, based on the past and speculation about the future, and try to guess how every important actor will behave. Since you never know that for sure, you run lots of simulations with random deviations. This is no help for predicting the future, you know it will not resemble any of your simulations. But there is actually a manageable number of key decisions: where to set limits, how much cash to hold, when to cut losses and so forth. If these are set in a manner to avoid disaster in as many scenarios as possible, you have some hope that the discipline of preparing for what you can foresee gives you the flexibility to survive whatever happens. Risk managers call non-ergodicity "regime shifts" and build them into models.
Emergent phenomena are nice to think about, but have not found their way into risk management practice. The issue is that there is a cost to precautions. You need to make enough money in good times to make it worth surviving the bad times--and profits build capital and create equity value that can separate survivors from road kill in a crisis. There are enough known phenomena to prepare for, and the kind of preparations are generally useful for most unexpected phenomena as well. In most cases there isn't attention and other resources to spare for specific preparations for plausible phenomena predicted by agent-based models that has never been observed; especially because we cannot imagine them in sufficient detail to design many specific preparations.
Radical uncertainty is used more in a negative way than a positive one. All model-based predictions--pricing models and risk models--are matched by a "and if the model's wrong. . ." contingency plan. The answer is not a backup model, but a checklist for how to survive when you don't trust models.
The only major disagreement I have with the book is I think the author oversells how much good this does. Great risk management does not eliminate crises or make them easy. At best, it gives a little extra edge. In the long run, we hope that extra edge makes a difference, but (radical uncertainty) you won't know that until afterwards, if then. In fact, it is the idea that experts should be able to predict and prevent disaster that leads to people over-reacting to each crisis. People's expectations are so high, that their judgment of actual performance is so low, that they try to fix too much.
This is the best available book that bridges the gap between academic theory of complex systems and practical financial risk management.
Part history, part philosophy and part polemic, "The End of Theory" is a great introduction to a new way of thinking about financial crises. To those who claim there is nothing new here, I recommend a more careful reading of the book. Clearly, some will react defensively to the criticism of neoclassical economics but it is important to keep the broader picture in mind. It is difficult to model future financial crises using historical data and standard methods. Bookstaber provides a way forward that is well worth considering and certainly worth debating.
Reading between the lines, he goes even further. His headline objective is to find a better approach for dealing with financial crises, as is evident in the book’s subtitle, but not too far into the book he points to crises as the “refiner’s fire” for assessing economics. If economics fails there, we are left to consider where else it might fail, but fail in a more subtle way.
The financial world does not seem to have qualms about mathematical and quantitative methods. And his approach is ultimately a quantitative one. But it holds a certain humility not found in much of the mathematically-driven world in that it recognizes that the world cannot really be solved, that we change ourselves and the world around us when we interact, when we are changed by our experiences, and when we discover and create. As he writes in the conclusion, “If you can model it, you’re wrong.”