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Mean Markets and Lizard Brains: How to Profit from the New Science of Irrationality

ISBN: 978-0-471-60245-3
320 pages
February 2005
Mean Markets and Lizard Brains: How to Profit from the New Science of Irrationality (0471602450) cover image
Everyone from journalists to market pros are turning to behavioral finance to explain, analyze, and predict market direction. In contrast to old-school assumptions of cool-headed rationality, the new behavioral school embraces hot-blooded human irrationality as a core feature of both individuals and financial markets. The 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics was awarded to scholars of this new scientific approach to irrationality. In Mean Markets and Lizard Brains, Terry Burnham, an economist who has a proven ability to translate complex topics into everyday language, reveals the biological causes of irrationality. The human brain contains ancient structures that exert powerful and often unconscious influences on behavior. This "lizard brain" may have helped our ancestors eat and reproduce, but it wreaks havoc with our finances. Going far beyond cataloguing our financial foibles, Dr. Burnham applies this novel approach to all of today's most important financial topics: the stock market, the economy, real estate, bonds, mortgages, inflation, and savings. This broad and scholarly investigation provides an in-depth look at why manias, panics, and crashes happen, and why people are built to want to buy at irrationally high prices and sell at irrationally low prices. Most importantly, by incorporating the new science of irrationality, readers can position themselves to profit from financial markets that often seem downright mean. Mean Markets and Lizard Brains skillfully identifies the craziness that is part of human nature, helps us see it in ourselves, and then shows us how to profit from a world that doesn't always make sense.
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Preface.

Acknowlwedgements.

Chapter One. Introduction: Mean Markets and Lizard Brains.

 PART ONE: THE NEW SCIENCE OF IRRATIONALITY.

Chapter Two. Crazy People: Lizard Brains and the New Science of Irrationality.

Chapter Three. Crazy World: Mean Markets and the New Science of Irrationality.

PART TWO: THE OLD ART OF MACROECONOMICS.

Chapter Four. U.S. Economic Snapshot: America the Talented Debtor.

Chapter Five. Inflation: Rising Prices and Shrinking Dollars.

Chapter Six. Deficits and Dollars: Uncle Sam the International Beggar.

PART THREE: APPLYING SCIENCE AND ART TO BONDS, STOCKS, AND REAL ESTATE.

Chapter Seven. Bonds: Are they only for Wimps?

Chapter Eight. Stocks: For the Long Run or for Losers?

Chapter Nine. Real Estate: Live in your home; make your money at work.

PART FOUR: PROFITING FROM THE NEW SCIENCE OF IRRATIONALITY.

Chapter Ten. Timeless Advice: How to Shackle the Lizard Brain.

Chapter Eleven. Timely Advice: Investing in the Meanest of Markets.

Notes.

Index.

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TERRY BURNHAM is a leader in the application of biology to economics and finance. He was an economics professor at Harvard for many years, beginning at the Kennedy School and, most recently, at the Harvard Business School. His biological research has taken him to Africa to observe wild chimpanzees and to the laboratory to study the role of testosterone in negotiation. He is coauthor of the international bestseller Mean Genes. Before joining the Harvard faculty, he worked at Goldman Sachs & Co. and was the president and CFO of the successful start-up biotechnology firm, Progenics Pharmaceuticals, whose work in AIDS and cancer treatment has been widely praised. Dr. Burnham has a PhD in business economics from Harvard University, a master's in finance from MIT, an MS in computer science from San Diego State University, and a BS in biophysics from the University of Michigan. He served with distinction as a tank driver in the U.S. Marine Corps.
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