on 27 June 2008
When this book was first published, it may have been an eye opener to the non-academic audience it seems to have been aimed at. Now that behavioural finance is widely accepted, and there are other books for the general reader, its weaknesses become obvious.
This is a book from the "I'm clever and everyone else is stupid" school of writing - and the author is not as good a writer as Nicholas Taleb. As one small example, we are encouraged to sneer at people who have chosen the wrong model of the market (e.g. momentum players or contrarian players), without any hint that the author has any techniques or analysis to determine which model to use when, and with a strong "they are wrong 50% of the time" attitude.
The book does not cover today's full spread of behavioural finance. We have issues around "framing" well explained and explored. The tendency for people to minimise regret rather than maximise wealth, the power of recent memory, and the mis-use of mental models are all covered, but the chain from psychology to these symptoms is not really mapped or explored.
And then the second half of the book is taken up with examples of market inefficiency, with no real explanation of the causes, and no real attempt to link these to human behaviour.
For the academicly-minded, the references are pulled from a surprisingly small group of authors - though it was probably not so surprising given when the book was written. And for the general reader it suffers from not having a narrative thread that builds through the book.
No doubt a 5-star book when first published; now there are so many other books out there there must be many better. I am starting in to James Montier "Behavioural Investing" - and so far so good.
on 25 July 2008
A sensible and readable introduction to Behavioural Finance for investors. Shefrin first discusses the behavioural biases exhibited by investors and then shows how these are to be found in a wide range of investment activities - efforts to predict the market, individual and institutional investors, corporate finance and derivatives.
The books is interesting to read and contains several real life examples of the unfortunate effects of the biases (such as the Long Term Capital Management).
Not a book for academics but for anyone interested in why investment decisions so often go wrong this will provide an excellent introduction.
on 2 October 2000
Prof Shefrin provides the first practioners guide to the field of behavioral finance. Unlike "Inefficient Markets" by Prof Shleifer, Beyond Fear and Greed is meant for the masses. Here is a book that will teach you why investors make mistakes and how to avoid them. Shefrin writes in an entertaining fashion, but cobines hte latest academic work with a more readable appraoch. I found reading both Beyond Fear and Greed and Inefficient Markets provided an excellent introduction to the psychology of investing.