A MATHEMATICIAN PLAYS THE STOCK MARKET

John Allen Paulos, Author . Basic $25 (216p) ISBN 978-0-465-05480-0

We like to think not only that mathematicians are smarter than the rest of us but that by dint of their mastery of numbers, they hold the key to understanding the baffling mysteries of the universe. Alas, Paulos (Innumeracy) says that's not always the case. As the author relates in this funny, insightful little volume about attempts to bring order and science to the free-for-all that is the stock market, he himself was once a big investor (in WorldCom). Despite strong evidence to sell, he desperately hung on to his stock as the price plummeted, proving that a head for numbers doesn't always translate to Wall Street know-how. Through most of this book, Paulos discusses various methods for predicting markets and offers thoughts on why people keep trying to perfect them. Shocking in their obtuseness are the so-called Elliot Wave followers, who believe stocks operate according to an impossibly arcane series of numerical waves and cycles. The efficient-market theorists—many of whom believe the stock market is so inherently efficient that everything one needs to know about a company is reflected in its stock price—get the most thorough joshing from Paulos: never able to resist a joke, he tells one about how many efficient market theorists it takes to change a light bulb. "Answer: None. If the light bulb needed changing the market would have already done it." Playful and informative, Paulos's book will be appreciated by investors with a sense of humor. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/07/2003
Release date: 05/01/2003
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FORMATS
Paperback - 226 pages - 978-0-465-05481-7
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-0-465-00970-1
Open Ebook - 226 pages - 978-1-299-44143-9
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