The EMH, the Financial Crisis and the Behavioral Finance
1. Introduction The Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH) that was first proposed by Fama (1965, 1970) is the cornerstone of the modern financial economic theory. The EMH argues that the market is efficient and asset price reflects all the relevant information concerned about its return. The genius insight provided by the EMH has changed the way we look at the financial crisis thoroughly. However, the confidence in the EMH is eroded by the recent financial crisis. People can not help to ask: if the market is efficient and the price of assets is always correct as suggested by the EMH, why there exists such a great bubble in the financial market during the recent financial crisis?
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Apart from that, the EMH assumes that information is symmetric dissemination and can flow freely without cost and time lag, but information in the reality may not be symmetric disseminated, information may not be able to flow freely, this will also affect the validity of the EMH in explaining asset prices in the real life. Besides, factors such as sociological factors also play a part in determining asset prices. In author’s opinion, asset price is just like a glass of beer. At the lower part of the glass is the real beer, representing the intrinsic value of the asset that can be explained by the EMH. At the upper part of the glass is the foam, representing values that can not be explained by the EMH. In other word, the EMH can not explain bubbles, which is the systematic deviation of asset prices from their fundamental value. The EMH has even been criticized as the culprit of the financial crisis. In Nocera (2009) and Fox (2009), both of them believe that the notion of efficiency was responsible for the financial crisis. They argue that since the market is efficient and asset prices reflect all relevant information, the investors and supervisors feel it is unnecessary to look into the intrinsic value of assets, and so fail to be aware of the asset price bubbles, thus the financial crisis occurs. Actually, not soon after the EMH was first proposed, scholars have found many anomalies that contradict with the prediction of EMH. De Bondt