Eugene Fama, Nobel laureate and Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago, doesn’t believe in a stock market bubble. But he is worried about the high levels of government debt. He warns that investors could stop perceiving government bonds as risk-free. A conversation with the «father of modern finance» on The Market. Excerpts:
Professor Fama, the efficient market hypothesis has revolutionized the way people invest. What goes through your mind when you look at the wild swings the stock market made this year?
The market seems pretty good. It held up even though the economy is deep in the bucket. This is a good example of how forward looking the market really is: It’s looking past what we are going through now, and it’s saying that the future doesn’t look that bad.
Do you think that’s the correct assumption?
If I could forecast, I wouldn’t be a professor.
Still, since the crash in February/March, we basically went from 1929 to 1999 in just a few months. What are the chances stocks are in a bubble?
Bubbles are things people see in hindsight. They don’t identify them in advance. Sure, you can look at the behavior of prices, and you may be able to identify cases where they are too high. But if you only look back and say: «Oh, stocks went down a lot, so that was a bubble», then that’s 20/20 hindsight. At the time, there was no evidence that there was a bubble.