Ideas

The Best Books on Behavioral Finance and Behavioral Economics

It seems as though I get asked just about every week, "If I want to learn more about behavioral finance, where do I start?" So, in an effort to give a more comprehensive answer to that question (and save myself some time), I've compiled the list below. Happy reading!

The Bible(s):

The Laws of Wealth - Crosby 

Thinking, Fast and Slow - Kahneman

Irrational Exuberance - Shiller

Nudge - Thaler and Sunstein

Antifragile - Taleb

Introduction to Behavioral Finance:

Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes - Belsky and Gilovich

The Little Book of Behavioral Finance - Montier 

Predictably Irrational - Ariely 

Misbehaving - Thaler

Animal Spirits - Akerlof and Shiller

History of Finance:

This Time is Different - Reinhart and Rogoff

A Short History of Financial Euphoria - Galbraith

Biology + Psychology + Investing:

The Hour Between Dog and Wolf - Coates 

Goals-Based Investing:

Personal Benchmark - Crosby and Widger

Risk:

Against the Gods - Bernstein

Decision Making:

The Checklist Manifesto - Gawande

The Investor's Paradox - Portnoy

The Paradox of Choice - Schwartz

The Power of Fifty Bits - Nease

Think Twice - Mauboussin

Behavioral Investing:

Quantitative Value - Gray and Carlisle

Behavioral Investment Management - Davies and Servigny

Value Investing - Montier 

Behavioral Portfolio Management - C. Thomas Howard

The Most Important Thing - Marks

The Little Book That Still Beats the Market - Greenblatt

A Wealth of Common Sense - Carlson

Dual Momentum - Antonacci 

What Works on Wall Street - O'Shaughnessy

Contrarian Investment Strategies - Dreman

The Intelligent Investor - Graham 

You Can Be a Stock Market Genius - Greenblatt

A Random Walk Down Wall Street - Malkiel

Probability:

The Signal and the Noise - Silver

Fooled by Randomness - Taleb

The Black Swan - Taleb

The Drunkard's Walk - Mlodinow

Women + Investing:

Women of the Street - Jones 

Warren Buffett Invest Like a Girl: And You Should, Too - Lofton

Best Expose:

Backstage Wall Street - Brown 

Wall Street: Where the Future is More Certain than the Present

Suppose I asked you what you would be doing in 5 minutes. Odds are, you would be able to answer that question with some high degree of certainty. After all, it will probably look a bit like what you are doing at the time you were asked. Now, let’s move the goalpost back a bit and imagine that I asked you what you would be doing five weeks from now. It would certainly be exponentially harder to pinpoint, but your calendar may give some clues as to how you will be engaged at that time. Now imagine you were asked to forecast your actions five months, five years or even fifty years from now – damn near impossible, right? Of course it is, because in our quotidian existence, the present is far more knowable than the distant future.

What complicates investing then, is that the exact reverse is true. We have no idea what will happen today, very little notion of what next week holds, a slight inkling as to potential one-year returns, but could take a pretty solid stab at thirty years from now. Consider the long-term performance of stocks by holding periods:

Range Of Returns on Stocks: 1926 to 1997

 Holding Period    Best Return    Worst Return

1 Year                     +53.9    %    -43.3    %
5 Years                   +23.9    %    -12.5    %
10 Years                  +20.1    %    - 0.9    %
15 Years                  +18.2    %    + 0.6    %
20 Years                 +16.9    %    + 3.1    %
25 Years                  +14.7    %    + 5.9    %

Over short periods of time, returns are nearly unknowable. Stocks are up about 60 percent of the time and down about 40 percent of the time, but the highs and lows are both very dramatic. Over a time period more reflective of a long-term investment horizon, however, the future becomes far more certain. Returns average just over 10 percent per year, with the worst case being around 6 percent and the best case being nearly 15 percent. Not so scary anymore, but it does require a fundamental rethinking of reality, something that seems not to be happening. As statistician extraordinaire Nate Silver says in The Signal and the Noise:

“In the 1950s, the average share of common stock in an American company was held for about six years before being traded – consistent with the idea that stocks are a long-term investment. By the 2000s, the velocity of trading had increased roughly twelvefold. Instead of being held for six years, the same share of stock was traded after just six months. The trend shows few signs of abating: stock market volumes have been doubling once every four or five years.”

Intuition tells us that “now” is more knowable than “tomorrow” but Wall Street Bizarro World (WSBW) says otherwise. As Mr. Silver points out, more access to data and the disintermediary effects of technology make our tendency toward short-termism even greater. But the growing impatience of the masses only serves to benefit the savvy investor. As Ben Carlson says in A Wealth of Common Sense, “Individuals have to understand that no matter what innovations we see in the financial industry, patience will always be the great equalizer in financial markets. There’s no way to arbitrage good behavior over a long time horizon. In fact, one of the biggest advantages individuals have over the pros is the ability to be patient.”

For much, much more on applying behavioral finance to the management of both self and wealth, please check out "The Laws of Wealth" by Nocturne Capital founder, Dr. Daniel Crosby.

The Behavioral Finance Reading List

It seems as though I get asked just about every week, "If I want to learn more about behavioral finance, where do I start?" Well, here you go...

The Bible(s):

The Laws of Wealth - Crosby 

Thinking, Fast and Slow - Kahneman

Irrational Exuberance - Shiller

Nudge - Thaler and Sunstein

Antifragile - Taleb

Introduction to Behavioral Finance:

Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes - Belsky and Gilovich

The Little Book of Behavioral Finance - Montier 

Predictably Irrational - Ariely 

Misbehaving - Thaler

Animal Spirits - Akerlof and Shiller

History of Finance:

This Time is Different - Reinhart and Rogoff

A Short History of Financial Euphoria - Galbraith

Biology + Psychology + Investing:

The Hour Between Dog and Wolf - Coates 

Goals-Based Investing:

Personal Benchmark - Crosby and Widger

Risk:

Against the Gods - Bernstein

Decision Making:

The Checklist Manifesto - Gawande

The Investor's Paradox - Portnoy

The Paradox of Choice - Schwartz

The Power of Fifty Bits - Nease

Think Twice - Mauboussin

Behavioral Investing:

Quantitative Value - Gray and Carlisle

Behavioral Investment Management - Davies and Servigny

Value Investing - Montier 

Behavioral Portfolio Management - C. Thomas Howard

The Most Important Thing - Marks

The Little Book That Still Beats the Market - Greenblatt

A Wealth of Common Sense - Carlson

Dual Momentum - Antonacci 

What Works on Wall Street - O'Shaughnessy

Contrarian Investment Strategies - Dreman

The Intelligent Investor - Graham 

You Can Be a Stock Market Genius - Greenblatt

A Random Walk Down Wall Street - Malkiel

Probability:

The Signal and the Noise - Silver

Fooled by Randomness - Taleb

The Black Swan - Taleb

The Drunkard's Walk - Mlodinow

Women + Investing:

Women of the Street - Jones 

Warren Buffett Invest Like a Girl: And You Should, Too - Lofton

Best Expose:

Backstage Wall Street - Brown