George Soros Speaking at CATO On Hayek, Reflexivity (4/28/2011)

Reflexivity Cycle
If you like economics and market behavior you might be interested in this recent discussion at the CATO institute ("Richard Epstein, George Soros, and Bruce Caldwell Discuss Hayek's Constitution of Liberty"). I added the new rap battle between Keynes and Hayek for your entertainment after the video.

To your left is a diagram of a cycle driven by reflexivity (price -> perception -> fundamentals). Read "George Soros, Reflexivity and Market Reversals" by Marvin Bolt at Seeking Alpha on March 16, 2009 (around the historical market low). Here is a quote from the end of the article.

"We are at a unique time in history. The economy and financial markets have been driven by a variety of reflexive forces resulting in widespread destabilization. However, a fully developed parabolic stock market decline offers strong evidence that the extremes have been reached. Insights from George Soros’ theory of reflexivity, supported by examples from the past, lead us to conclude that the imminent reversal will be breathtaking. As we wrote this, the Dow had just surpassed 7,000 after testing 6,500. Indeed, the reversal might be at hand." That worked out quite well. (Continue reading at Seeking Alpha).

George Soros quotes from the transcript; watch videos after the jump:

"Hayek argued that economic agents base their decisions not on reality but their interpretation of reality and the two are never the same. That's what I called fallibility. Hayek also recognized that decisions based on imperfect understanding are bound to have unintended consequences. But Hayek and I drew diametrically different inferences from this insight. Hayek used it to extol the virtues of the invisible hand, which was the unintended consequence of economic agents perusing their self interest. I used it to demonstrate the inherent instability of financial markets.

In my theory of reflexivity I assert that the thinking of economic agents serves two functions: on the one hand, they try to understand reality that's the cognitive function. On the other, they try to make an impact on the situation and that's the participating or manipulative function. The two functions connect reality and the participants' perception of reality in opposite directions. As long as the two functions work independently they each produced determinate results. But when they operate simultaneous they interfere with each other by introducing an element of uncertainty into both the participants' understanding and the actual course of events. I call the interplay between the two functions that gives rise to the uncertainty reflexivity. 

The two way connection between the cognitive and manipulative functions works as feedback loop; the feedback is either positive or negative. The positive feedback reinforces both the prevailing trend and the prevailing bias and leads to a mispricing of financial assets. Negative feedback corrects the bias. At one extreme lies equilibrium, at the other are the financial bubbles. They occur when the mispricing goes too far and becomes unsustainable and the boom is then followed by a bust. In the real world, positive and negative feedback are intermingled and the two extremes are rarely if ever reached." (read the full transcript)

Fight of the Century: Keynes vs. Hayek Round Two

Related Posts


HTML Comment Box is loading comments...