Angus Deaton’s understanding of economics

普林斯顿大学经济学教授安格斯·迪顿(Angus Deaton)因为“对消费,贫困和福利的分析”做出的贡献而被授予2015年的诺贝尔经济学奖。在迪顿教授的大学个人主页上,有一篇14页的短篇个人传记,介绍了他的人生经历。其中有这样一小段话,描述了他对经济学的理解:

I understood that economics was about three things: theory that specified mechanisms and stories about how the world worked, and how things might be linked together; evidence that could be interpreted in terms of the theory, or that seemed to contradict it, or was just puzzling; and writing (whose importance is much understated in economics) that could explain mechanisms in a way that made them compelling, or that could draw out the lessons that were learned from the combination of theory and evidence.

专业投资者 vs. 散户

凯恩斯(John Maynard Keynes)在他的著作《就业、利息和货币通论》中讨论了专业投资者和普通散户的区别。他写道:

It might have been supposed that competition between expert professionals, possessing judgment and knowledge beyond that of the average private investor, would correct the vagaries of the ignorant individual left to himself. It happens, however, that the energies and skill of the professional investor and speculator are mainly occupied otherwise. For most of these persons are, in fact, largely concerned, not with making superior long-term forecasts of probable yield of an investment over its whole life, but with foreseeing changes in the conventional basis of valuation of a short time ahead of the general public. They are concerned, not with what an investment is really worth to a man who buys it “for keeps,” but with what the market will value it at, under the influence of mass psychology, three months or a year hence. Moreover, his behavior is not the outcome of a wrong-headed propensity. For it is not sensible to pay 25 for an investment of which you believe the prospective yield to justify a value of 30, if you also believe that the market will value it at 20 three months hence.

Thus the professional investor is forced to concern himself with the anticipation of impending changes, in the news or in the atmosphere, of the kind by which experience shows that the mass psychology of the market is most influenced. This is the inevitable result of investment markets organized with a view to so-called “liquidity”. Of the maxims of orthodox finance none, surely, is more anti-social than the fetish of liquidity, the doctrine that it is a positive virtue on the part of investment institutions to concentrate their resources upon the holding of “liquid” securities. It forgets that there is no such thing as liquidity of investment for the community as a whole. The social object of skilled investment should be to defeat the dark forces of time and ignorance which envelop our future. The actual, private object of the most skilled investment to-day is “to beat the gun”, as the Americans so well express it, to outwit the crowd, and to pass the bad, or depreciating, half-crown to the other fellow.

This battle of wits to anticipate the basis of conventional valuation a few months hence, rather than the prospective yield of an investment over a long term of years, does not even require gulls amongst the public to feed the maws of the professional; — it can be played by professionals amongst themselves. Nor is it necessary that anyone should keep his simple faith in the conventional basis of valuation having any genuine long-term validity. For it is, so to speak, a game of Snap, of Old Maid, of Musical Chairs — a pastime in which he is victor who says Snap neither too soon nor too late, who passes the Old Maid to his neighbor before the game is over, who secures a chair for himself when the music stops. These games can be played with zest and enjoyment, though all the players know that it is the Old Maid which is circulating, or that when the music stops some of the players will find themselves unseated.




UBS (Analysts: Mark Haefele)

“The timing of this first step is far less important than the path of rate rises. We expect the journey towards more normal interest rates to be gradual, with hikes coming only when justified by evidence of sustained economic growth. The reluctance of Fed officials to hike now can be linked to market conditions and their eagerness to avoid a premature move that risks stifling growth.”

DEUTSCHE BANK (Analyst: Jim Reid)

“So the Fed stands pat and the spell of record low rates continues as concerns about developments abroad and the fragility of markets proved to be enough of a red flag for policymakers. The overall tone and message from both the statement and Fed Chair Yellen certainly felt like it was weighed more towards the dovish end of the scale.”

“There was some support from Yellen on the improvements in domestic activity with both business spending and the labour market in particular highlighted. She also kept the door open for a move this year, including October, but once again the timing was downplayed with the expected path of rate rises re-emphasized as the more important factor.”


Gerald Loeb on security values

关于证券的价值,Gerald Loeb在《The Battle for Investment Survival》中写道:

There is no such thing as a final answer to security values. A dozen experts will arrive at 12 different conclusions. It often happens that a few moments later each would alter his verdict if given a chance to reconsider because of a changed condition. Market values are fixed only in part by balance sheets and income statements; much more by the hopes and fears of humanity; by greed, ambition, acts of God, invention, financial stress and strain, weather, discovery, fashion and numberless other causes impossible to be listed without omission.

via: The Money Game