NGPF Podcast: Bill Bernstein on his latest book, The Delusions of Crowds

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May 07, 2021
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Podcasts, Investing, Behavioral Finance

GameStop, cryptocurrencies, NFTs...and the list goes on of examples of speculation in today's financial markets. Who better to weigh in on these and other examples of financial speculation than Bill Bernstein. The full title of his new book, The Delusions Of Crowds: Why People Go Mad in Groups, captures the essence of our conversation. In this podcast, Bill discusses the power of narrative to fuel "bubbly" behavior and why social media (think sub-reddit groups like Wallstreetbets) acts as an accelerant in propagating those narratives. Bill helps to place today's market activity in a historical context while also highlighting the cognitive biases that explain investor behavior. Enjoy! 

Details:

  • 0:00~7:03 Current Events with MissBeHelpful: Protective Parents
  • 7:03~7:32 A word from NGPF
  • 7:32~8:42 Introducing this week’s guest: Bill Bernstein, Financial Theorist, Author, and Neurologist
  • 8:42~11:31 Decision to write The Delusions Of Crowds: Why People Go Mad in Groups
  • 11:31~13:40 On the chapter, “Capitalism’s Philanthropist”
  • 13:40~15:14 The role of the media during the tech bubble
  • 15:14~18:12 The power of narratives
  • 18:12~20:06 Bill Flynn’s barbershop
  • 20:06~25:15 How Bill’s background as a neurologist informs him as an investor
  • 25:15~28:01 Explaining GameStop
  • 28:01~29:48 How financial services companies make money through payment for order flow
  • 29:48~33:54 Is Bitcoin a bubble?
  • 33:54~33:51 Confirmation bias as disconfirmation bias
  • 33:51~37:25 What’s going on with NFTs?
  • 37:25~39:52 When and why bubbles burst and the role of social media
  • 39:52~41:07 Conclusion

Resources:

Quote:

“Social media is clearly an accelerant [of a bubble]. The analogy that I use is with a pandemic or an epidemic. You’ve got the disease agent, which in the case of a bubble, is the narrative: [for example,] ‘the internet changes everything and all of our transactions are going to be run through Bitcoin.’ And then you have the vector, the animal or the agent, that transmits it. And social media is a very effective vector.”

About the Authors

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

Ren Makino

Ren has been working part-time at NGPF since 2014, interning through high school and college. With his knowledge growing alongside NGPF, after graduating from college in 2020, he joined the team to work full time with a focus on teacher onboarding. He is also the editor of the NGPF podcast and makes sure it is accessible to teachers on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play Music. During his free time, he likes to try out coffees from different roasters across the world and try out new brewing methods, even though personal finance gurus tend to caution against buying a cup of joe.