Watching the market this year has been like observing an exercise in game theory and behavioral finance, and the two fields are closely related. Game theory is the study of how a rational person makes decisions in uncertain situations. As the name suggests, game theory was developed with the intent of developing optimal strategies in games in which chance or the decisions of an opponent play a role in your outcome. Game theory focuses on how rational players can make the best decisions to maximize their satisfaction. Behavioral finance adds the nuance that, in real life, people do not necessarily have all available information and, even if they do, they often make decisions that are inconsistent with those made by a perfectly-rational and fully-informed decision maker. Continue reading
Guest post by Contributing Editor, Robert P. Seawright, Chief Investment and Information Officer for Madison Avenue Securities.
Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead presents Shakespeare’s Hamlet from the bewildered point of view of two of the Bard’s bit players, the comically indistinguishable nobodies who become headliners in Stoppard’s play. The play opens before our heroes have even joined the action in Shakespeare’s epic. They have been “sent for” and are marking time by flipping coins and getting heads each time (the opening clip from the movie version is shown above). Guildenstern keeps tossing coins and Rosencrantz keeps pocketing them. Significantly, Guildenstern is less concerned with his losses than in puzzling out what the defiance of the odds says about chance and fate. “A weaker man might be moved to re-examine his faith, if in nothing else at least in the law of probability.” Continue reading