In 2013, the Nobel Prize in economics went to three men. One of the recipients, Robert Shiller, is a professor at Yale University known for showing that markets are inefficient. Another was Eugene Fama, a professor at the University of Chicago known for his advocacy of market efficiency. (The third was Lars Hansen, also at the University of Chicago.) This leads to the first point worth stressing: to be an active investor, you must believe in both inefficiency and efficiency. In other words, you have to think that both Shiller and Fama are right―just not at the same time. Naturally, if markets are perfectly efficient there’s no reason to try to beat them through active management. But it’s also true that there’s no reason to try to beat the market through active management if you think markets are always inefficient. That’s because even if you are savvy enough to buy a dollar for fifty cents, there’s no reason to believe that the price and value will ever converge in a perpetually inefficient market.
My guest today is Michael Mauboussin, an investment strategist in the financial services industry, professor at the Columbia Graduate School of Business, and serves on the board of trustees at the Sante Fe Institute (an independent, nonprofit theoretical research institute). He is managing director and head of Global Financial Strategies at Credit Suisse, where he advises clients on valuation and portfolio positioning, capital markets theory, competitive strategy analysis, and decision making.
The topics are his books More Than You Know and Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition.
In this episode of Trend Following Radio we discuss:
Multi-disciplinary thinking and its influence on Covel
Looking at larger reference classes
The Swiss Franc
Mauboussin’s personal take on the recent oil move
Fundamentals and expectation
Luck or skill when it comes to trading profits
The paradox of skill, absolute, and relative skill
Whether scientific principles of luck exist
The general public perception of behavioral economics
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Michael Mauboussin appeared in my film Broke a few years back and I have always enjoyed his efforts. While not a trend follower much of his work dovetails nicely with the heart and soul of trend following success: human behavior and inefficient markets. Two recent Mauboussin works worth reading (PDF):