Re: Two financial thought contagion papers now online

From: Steve Drew (
Date: Fri Feb 22 2002 - 21:35:50 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Two financial thought contagion papers now online
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    >Date: Fri, 22 Feb 2002 07:05:53 -0800
    From: "Grant Callaghan" <>
    Subject: Re: Two financial thought contagion papers now online

    It might be interesting to compare stock market bubbles with the behavior of
    buying lottery tickets in a progressive lottery. The chances of winning in
    Calif. are 14 million to one, no matter what the payoff of a winning ticket.
      Newspapers often print the odds and comapre the chances of winning with
    getting struck by lightning or the planet being struck by a meteor. When
    the lottery payout approached 200 million last week, people in some places
    were line up around the block to buy a ticket. Automatic ticket dispensers
    ran out of tickets. The hysteria produced three winners who won 64 million

    I believe the forces that produce stock market bubbles operate in a similar
    way. No matter how many warnings they get of the danger of buying into a
    bubble, even supposedly rational stock brokers are overtaken with euphoria
    and computer programmers who work in the field of logic buy into the idea of
    getting rich by taking stock options instead of money.

    So why do normally rational people make irrational decisions in the face of
    advice to the contrary and end up losing most or all of their accumulated
    wealth? Is it similar to the idea of a guaranteed place in heaven? Or is
    it something like a herd instinct that causes people to stampede for the
    >exits at the shout of fire?<

    Hi Grant.

    In some respects i think this is part of it. I'm sure your aware of the
    expression that 'there's no such thing as a free lunch', and nowadays that
    is very often the case. In the past, particularly for the hunter gatherers
    it would not necessarily be the case. eg. A band is wandering the plain and
    comes across a cheetah (solitary hunter) and drives it off with spears -
    that's pretty near to a free lunch. But you still have to grab as much as
    you can in case there is another band near by. So may be there is a hard
    wired part of us to jump in if we scent 'a free lunch' but that what
    constitutes a free lunch is a cultural characteristic. this compares well
    the earlier posts on such thought linking with dopamine reward

    With respect to the fire shout, that is a separate hard wired function
    related to danger, although again it may be possible to construe the danger
    to us as a construct. ie a campfire in general does not pose a threat to
    those who know what they are doing, but some of the wildlife may. In a
    modern setting, being in a burning building is high risk and wildlife tends
    not to be.

    So to my mind we have two basic channels here.
    the first is stuff your face now.
    the second is leg it.
    Which one applies depends on the situation.

    So on a rising stock market people dive in, and with a burning building they
    jump out.



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