Posts Tagged ‘reflexivity’

On Reflexivity & Animal Spirits: What Moves the Market from Here?

Kent Thune’s wonderful blog The Financial Philosopher is not just a financial site, it’s a "learning experience."  I highly recommend that you visit him and read some of his latest inspirational articles, such as Get Busy Livin’ or Get Busy Dyin’To Embrace Death is to Embrace Life, and Entrepreneurs: Use Your Delusion, Sell the Illusion. – Ilene

On Reflexivity & Animal Spirits: What Moves the Market from Here?

ITAR-TASS 02: IRKUTSK REGION, RUSSIA. NOVEMBER 30, 2008. Early twentieth century German pendulum clock with a statuette of Mnemosyne, Greek goddess of memory, on display at the Clock Museum, Angarsk, Irkutsk Region, Russia. (Photo ITAR-TASS / Nikolai Ryutin) Photo via Newscom

Courtesy of Kent Thune, at The Financial Philosopher

Are capital markets leading economic indicators or do they provide fuel for a growing economy? Or is it both? Isn’t the function of capital markets to raise capital for the financing of corporate and government operations through the sale of securities (stocks and bonds)?

If the stock market is rising, would this not then create the economic condition it is "predicting" as an economic indicator? In the absence of government stimulus, might financial markets save themselves? If so, how? Can financial markets rise spontaneously or do they require a fundamental boost or outside stimulation?

Capital markets have many functions and their participants have numerous objectives; however, we may simplify them all into two basic categorical functions: 1) Passive and 2) Active. Depending upon economic conditions and variables, capital markets can play one or both rolls. Consider recent comments by George Soros (Hat tip to Captain Jack):

…financial markets do not play a purely passive role; they can also affect the so-called fundamentals they are supposed to reflect. These two functions that financial markets perform work in opposite directions. In the passive or cognitive function, the fundamentals are supposed to determine market prices. In the active or manipulative function market, prices find ways of influencing the fundamentals. When both functions operate at the same time, they interfere with each other. The supposedly independent variable of one function is the dependent variable of the other, so that neither function has a truly independent variable. As a result, neither market prices nor the underlying reality is fully determined. Both suffer from an element of uncertainty that cannot be quantified. I call the interaction between the two functions reflexivity…

Mr. Soros’ idea of reflexivity asserts, as he says, "that financial markets do not necessarily tend toward equilibrium; they can…
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