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Addressing the psychology of financial markets

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  • Tuckett, David

Abstract

The author suggests that the 2008 financial crisis was the culmination of an accelerating and inherently unstable process of financial market evolution. He argues that markets are not well organized to manage the power that financial assets have to generate emotion and their wider effect on human imagination and judgement, anchored in neurobiology. Judgements and decisions about risk, reward and the evaluation of success can become systematically compromised because the excitement of potential gain is disconnected from anxiety about potential consequences, producing groupthink and bubbles. When anxiety breaks through, a catastrophic loss of confidence is inevitable. In the aftermath the emotional pain that would be involved in accepting responsibility stands in the way of lessons being learned. The author's theoretical framework is influenced by modern psychoanalysis and draws on an interview study of international fund managers in 2007. He suggests that underlying psychological conflicts have influenced the way market institutions have evolved to compete by selling the promise of exceptional performance. To cope with the expectations upon them, agents are impelled to base their actions on stories which overvalue opportunities and underestimate risks; this creates agency issues and facilitates the process of disconnecting anxiety from excitement that creates bubble potential. Policy implications go well beyond improving regulation and transparency.

Suggested Citation

  • Tuckett, David, 2009. "Addressing the psychology of financial markets," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 3, pages 1-22.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifweej:200940
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.5018/economics-ejournal.ja.2009-40
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    File URL: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/28954/1/614388287.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. J. M. Keynes, 1937. "The General Theory of Employment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(2), pages 209-223.
    2. George A. Akerlof, 2009. "How Human Psychology Drives the Economy and Why It Matters," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1175-1175.
    3. S. Dellavigna., 2011. "Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 5.
    4. Bechara, Antoine & Damasio, Antonio R., 2005. "The somatic marker hypothesis: A neural theory of economic decision," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 336-372, August.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Tuckett, David, 2012. "Financial markets are markets in stories: Some possible advantages of using interviews to supplement existing economic data sources," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 36(8), pages 1077-1087.
    2. Nofsinger, John R., 2012. "Household behavior and boom/bust cycles," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 161-173.
    3. Bormann, Sven-Kristjan, 2013. "Sentiment indices on financial markets: What do they measure?," Economics Discussion Papers 2013-58, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    4. Anne van Aaken & Janis Antonovics & Andreas Glöckner, 2016. "Psychology and Disaster: Why We Do Not See Looming Disasters and How Our Way of Thinking Causes Them," Global Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 7, pages 16-24, May.
    5. Stefanescu, Razvan & Dumitriu, Ramona, 2016. "Particularitǎţi ale evoluţiei variabilelor financiare
      [Some particularities of the financial variables evolution]
      ," MPRA Paper 73481, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 02 Sep 2016.
    6. Lennart Erixon & Louise Johannesson, 2015. "Is the psychology of high profits detrimental to industrial renewal? Experimental evidence for the theory of transformation pressure," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 25(2), pages 475-511, April.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Financial bubbles; financial crises; group functioning; groupthink; market instability; financial regulation; psychoanalysis; psychology;

    JEL classification:

    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G18 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation

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