Adaptive Markets: Financial Evolution at the Speed of Thought Hardcover – 2 May 2017


A new, evolutionary explanation of markets and investor behavior

Half of all Americans have money in the stock market, yet economists can’t agree on whether investors and markets are rational and efficient, as modern financial theory assumes, or irrational and inefficient, as behavioral economists believe―and as financial bubbles, crashes, and crises suggest. This is one of the biggest debates in economics and the value or futility of investment management and financial regulation hang on the outcome. In this groundbreaking book, Andrew Lo cuts through this debate with a new framework, the Adaptive Markets Hypothesis, in which rationality and irrationality coexist.

Drawing on psychology, evolutionary biology, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, and other fields, Adaptive Markets shows that the theory of market efficiency isn’t wrong but merely incomplete. When markets are unstable, investors react instinctively, creating inefficiencies for others to exploit. Lo’s new paradigm explains how financial evolution shapes behavior and markets at the speed of thought―a fact revealed by swings between stability and crisis, profit and loss, and innovation and regulation.

A fascinating intellectual journey filled with compelling stories, Adaptive Markets starts with the origins of market efficiency and its failures, turns to the foundations of investor behavior, and concludes with practical implications―including how hedge funds have become the Galápagos Islands of finance, what really happened in the 2008 meltdown, and how we might avoid future crises.

An ambitious new answer to fundamental questions in economics, Adaptive Markets is essential reading for anyone who wants to know how markets really work.

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“Mr. Lo makes a convincing argument and he also uses the book to lay out some interesting ideas–such as a huge, diversified fund that would invest in a range of potential cancer treatments.” ― Economist

“Winner of the 2018 PROSE Award for Business, Finance & Management, Association of American Publishers”

“[Adaptive Markets] is a summation of developments in fields ranging from economics and behavioral finance to neuroscience and artificial intelligence–all influences on the adaptive markets hypothesis Lo proposes as a framework for finance that considers both rational and irrational behavior.” ― Institutional Investor

“[Adaptive Markets] doubles as a kind of intellectual history of the global financial system and the innovations that have shaped it. . . . The book abounds with interesting anecdotes drawn from many fields, including the author’s own experiences.” ― Foreign Affairs

“[Lo] has a knack for providing a telling anecdote or story to illustrate his point. More important, he also avoids being condescending or triumphalist.”—Matthew Partridge, Money Week

“A new theory should be able to capture all that its predecessors have to offer while adding new features. Lo’s adaptive-markets hypothesis is just such a replacement. . . . This book is essential reading.” ― IISS

“Mr. Lo’s book offers a unique way to think about the idea of ‘efficient markets’–a new hypothesis worth considering about how markets can be rational and irrational at the same time.”—Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times

“Finalist for the 2017 TIAA Paul A. Samuelson Award, TIAA Institute”

“Shortlisted for the 2017 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award”

“One of Exame’s “9 books that will help you get rich in 2018””


“Andrew Lo combines wonderfully broad scholarship and a delightfully instructive style to present dramatically new perspectives on how markets work and how they can be regulated more effectively. This important book will teach and entertain, and should influence those charged with keeping markets healthy.”―Simon A. Levin, Princeton University

Adaptive Markets will appeal to anyone who distrusts dogmatic economic theories and thirsts for a coherent view of how market economies produce both great gain and great pain for societies. Andrew Lo integrates a deep understanding of finance with a broad knowledge of biology, psychology, and ethics to offer a tantalizing vision of how financial engineering could become a powerful force for a more just, healthy, and prosperous world.”―Peter Hancock, President and CEO, AIG

“We tell stories, we learn from them, and we make them up. In this magnificent book, Andrew Lo explains how our attraction to stories drives markets, explains past catastrophes, and suggests future opportunities for world-saving financial engineering. And he packages it all in fascinating stories of his own.”―Patrick Henry Winston, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“Andrew Lo is a brilliant financial economist, visionary innovator, bold contrarian, gifted writer, and an unrelenting idealist. These traits are evident in this wonderful book, which traces the ‘evolutionary explosion of financial innovation’ that began with Vanguard’s creation of the first index mutual fund in 1974, tracking the S&P 500 Index. I continue to hold to index funds, but Dr. Lo’s book persuades me to keep a mind that is open―or at least ajar―to the new world of investment technology, investor preferences, and transaction efficiency, and to the wisdom of those who are smarter than I am.”―John C. Bogle, founder of the Vanguard Group and the First Index Mutual Fund, and author of The Little Book of Common Sense Investing

“This is a wonderful book. Andrew Lo traces a journey in which he reconsiders rationality in economics, moving from the efficient market hypothesis to his own Adaptive Markets Hypothesis through psychology, neuroscience, biology, and studies of financial innovations and crises. The book presents many valuable findings and is also full of emotion―enthusiasm, joy, frustration, and pain. It is itself a manifestation of the important finding that rational thinking and emotion go together.”―Nobuhiro Kiyotaki, Princeton University

Product details

  • ASIN : 0691135142
  • Publisher : Princeton University Press (2 May 2017)
  • Language : English
  • Hardcover : 504 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 9780691135144
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0691135144
  • Item Weight : 822 g
  • Dimensions : 16.51 x 3.18 x 24.13 cm
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