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Irrational Exuberance Paperback – April 10, 2001
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CNBC, day trading, the Motley Fool, Silicon Investor--not since the 1920s has there been such an intense fascination with the U.S. stock market. For an increasing number of Americans, logging on to Yahoo! Finance is a habit more precious than that morning cup of joe (as thousands of SBUX and YHOO shareholders know too well). Yet while the market continues to go higher, many of us can't get Alan Greenspan's famous line out of our heads. In Irrational Exuberance, Yale economics professor Robert J. Shiller examines this public fascination with stocks and sees a combination of factors that have driven stocks higher, including the rise of the Internet, 401(k) plans, increased coverage by the popular media of financial news, overly optimistic cheerleading by analysts and other pundits, the decline of inflation, and the rise of the mutual fund industry. He writes: "Perceived long-term risk is down.... Emotions and heightened attention to the market create a desire to get into the game. Such is irrational exuberance today in the United States."
By history's yardstick, Shiller believes this market is grossly overvalued, and the factors that have conspired to create and amplify this event--the baby-boom effect, the public infatuation with the Internet, and media interest--will most certainly abate. He fears that too many individuals and institutions have come to view stocks as their only investment vehicle, and that investors should consider looking beyond stocks as a way to diversify and hedge against the inevitable downturn. This is a serious and well-researched book that should read like a Stephen King novel to anyone who has staked his or her future on the market's continued success. --Harry C. Edwards --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Taking his book's title and thesis from Alan Greenspan's 1996 description of investors, Shiller (economics, Yale Univ.) studies the current booming U.S. stock market in historical terms. His research into past U.S. and international markets indicates that during every speculative bubble there was always widespread consensus that high valuations were justified by each market's special circumstances. Every large market correction seemed to result from popular consensus rather than specific events or news. Shiller says that past bull and bear markets, though often based initially on sound fundamental reasoning, fed upon themselves to go beyond what the facts justified. He challenges the efficient market theory, demonstrating that markets cannot be explained historically by the movement of company earnings or dividends. He concludes that the current U.S. stock market is a speculative bubble awaiting correction. While the book certainly belongs in all academic business collections, public libraries should also purchase it as a counterweight to the plethora of get-rich-quick investment guides.
-Lawrence R. Maxted, Gannon Univ., Erie, PA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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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.
With this said, the reason I give it four stars is because the book is somewhat difficult to digest at times; the points made are subtle and may require a second or third read-through in order to gain some real insights that one will remember after finishing up the 237-page main text followed by 32-page appendix which is the author's Nobel prize speech. The casual reader might be bored by the charts and the descriptions of the tools used to discuss the market price dynamics which are the focal point of the text. With this said, the appendix is definitely geared toward the reader with an academic background in research related to financial markets. I debated whether to give the book five stars purely on the scholarship involved and the value of the text for investors, but with a five-point system on Amazon it leaves much less room to be accurate in rating (I'd give this 9 out of 10 on a ten-point scale).