From ‘yawn-inducing’ to one of the year’s best

Back when USA Today ran a review of Myth of the Rational Market last summer, it was "yawn-inducing." Now, though, the paper's Money Bookshelf editor, Gary Rawlins (not the author of the original review), has listed it as one of the "Year's best business books to make sense of financial crisis." Not sure if that's the same as calling it one of the year's best business books, but I'll take it.

Meanwhile, at Bloomberg, James Pressley puts Myth on his list of ten Top Crisis Books. And Washington Examiner books editor Marcela Valdes put it at No. 2 on her list of the year's 10 best books. Let me just state here that there is no way Myth was the really one of the two best books published in the United States last year (I'm also pretty sure there's no way that Frank Bruni's Born Round, Valdes's first choice, was the best). But again, I'll take it.

Oh, and one other thing: I've got this new job.

Update: Made some more best-of lists. New York Times columnist Floyd Norris included Myth in his list of "six books I recommend with enthusiasm." In the East Hampton Star, Kurt Wenzel called it one of the top 10 books of the year. Bookseller 800ceoread put it on its extended list of the best business books of the year. And finally, Time put Myth on its list of the five best business books of the year, which seems kind of suspect. I didn't know about it beforehand, if that's any consolation. I guess it was a going-away present.

Update 2: Also on the Library Journal list of the best business books of 2009 and The Epicurean Dealmaker's list of books he's planning to read one of these days.

Talking efficient markets with Robert Kleinschmidt, Jerry Senser and Consuelo Mack

I hadn't realized that my appearance on Consuelo Mack WealthTrack in October was available in embeddable form. Thanks to Prieur du Plessis for showing me the way:

There's also a transcript where you can read semi-coherent utterances such as this one (it's better on TV):

JUSTIN FOX: It's funny, even though my book is critical of this whole idea coming out of academic finance, I spent enough time talking to all these finance professors that I immediately think to myself, "yeah, but do those guys really know where these stocks are headed?" But my thought is yeah, I should hope some people do because that's what makes, it's the work of Jerry and Robert that makes markets more efficient over time. My thinking is more power to them because I'm no good at that.

Amazon calls ‘Myth of the Rational Market’ the best business book of 2009, plus Fama, Bartlett, Samuelson

As part of its big end-of-year (even though it's only early November) best-of rankings, the book editors at have determined that Myth of the Rational Market is the best business book of 2009. I think the ranking is a little dubious because … aw, I'd better shut up about that now. Thanks, Amazonians!

Also, the great Gene Fama has chosen to promote the book, with a blog post criticizing it. Thanks, Gene! Here's my response.

Finally, I'll be "debating" economic policy with Bruce Bartlett and Robert Samuelson at the Lincoln Triangle Barnes & Noble on Monday night (Nov. 9). Our views run the gamut from, uh, center to center-right. So I'm sure fireworks will ensue.

The 76th-best book of the year

That's the verdict of the editors at, who put The Myth of the Rational Market just ahead of Audrey Niffeneger's Her Fearful Symmetry and just behind Seth's George Sprott: 1894-1975 on their 100 Best Books of 2009 list. Hey, I beat Thomas Pynchon (Inherent Vice is #94) and William Vollmann (Imperial is #97)! Which says something about the absurdity of such rankings. Although you can't think a best-of list is absurd if your book is on it, right?

In other book-related news, the nice people at the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. gave me yet another chance to flog Myth on the radio, in an 80th-anniversary-of-the-1929 crash segment on The Current Thursday with economist Ken Rogoff. Also, my first review for the New York Times Book Review appeared on Sunday.

Fall speaking schedule

I just updated my upcoming events page for the first time in a while, and realized that I have enough stuff coming up in the next couple of months to merit a post. First, I'll be on the Consuelo Mack WealthTrack show on PBS this coming weekend. (Check your local listings!) Then there's this New-York-centric line-up of speaking events:

Columbia Business School, 6:30-8:30, William & June Warren Hall, 1125 Amsterdam Avenue, Feldberg Space. Register online.

Museum of American Finance, Oct. 29, 2009, 5:30-7, 48 Wall Street, New York ($15 for non-members).

New York Salon,
Nov. 9, 2009, 7-8:30, Barnes & Noble Lincoln Triangle, Broadway and
66th, New York. Tickets required (but they're free); e-mail

Drucker Business Forum, Dec. 3, 2009, Los Angeles. Details to come.

New York Society of Security Analysts, Dec. 9, 2009, 5:30-7:45, 1177 Avenue of the Americas, 2nd Floor, New York ($25 for non-members).

Ryan Lizza puts Myth of the Rational Market in the New Yorker, and other news

In that other blog I write, I have whined a teensy little bit about Paul Krugman and The Economist failing to throw in a mention of my book in their recent pieces on what went wrong with economics. So it was great to see, in Ryan Lizza’s epic account of economic decisionmaking in the Obama White House in this week’s New Yorker, a largely unnecessary reference to The Myth of the Rational Market:

Summers told me that, as a graduate student, he first studied claims, made famous by economists at the University of Chicago, that financial markets are always rational and self-correcting. He said, “I encountered a sentence that was much quoted: ‘The efficient-market hypothesis is the best established fact in social sciences.’ Any sentence like that is a red flag to an ambitious academic.” Summers produced a body of work that undermined the efficient-market hypothesis, or E.M.H. A memorable paper on the subject, which he wrote in the early eighties but never published, began, “THERE ARE IDIOTS. Look around.” According to Justin Fox’s recent book, “The Myth of the Rational Market,” that paper persuaded Fischer Black, one of the leading theorists of E.M.H., to essentially abandon his belief in the hypothesis.

I don’t know that I’d say Fischer Black abandoned his belief in the efficient market hypothesis. He just loosened it a lot. But I’m thrilled that Lizza, whom I’ve never met, saw fit to bring up the book. We have reached the point in Myth‘s sales trajectory where little mentions here and there seem essential to keeping it from fading into, if not oblivion, some place I’d rather not see it go. So little things, like a short review in the October Harvard Business Review that doesn’t appear to be available online to non-subscribers, or a rave in the Las Vegas Business Press, or a brief mention in the New Yorker, start mattering a lot.

In that vein, I guess I ought to mention that I’ll be on Leonard Lopate’s radio show on WNYC on Thursday, Oct. 8, and on Consuelo Mack’s WealthTrack on a PBS station near you next week.

Paul Krugman calls ‘Myth of the Rational Market’ a ‘Must-Read’ in NYT Book Review

It's been a long wait, but the New York Times Book Review has come through in a big way, with a review by Paul Krugman. The crucial bits:

… Justin Fox’s “Myth of the Rational Market” brilliantly tells the
story of how that edifice was built — and why so few were willing to
acknowledge that it was a house built on sand.

Do we really need
yet another book about the financial crisis? Yes, we do — because this
one is different. Instead of focusing on the errors and abuses of the
bankers, Fox … tells the story of the professors who enabled those abuses
under the banner of the financial theory known as the efficient-market
hypothesis. Fox’s book is not an idle exercise in intellectual history,
which makes it a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the mess
we’re in. …

One of the great things about Fox’s writing is that he brings to it a
real understanding of the sociology of the academic world. Above all,
he gets the way in which one’s career, reputation, even sense of
self-worth can end up being defined by a particular intellectual
approach, so that supporters of the approach start to resemble fervent
political activists — or members of a cult. …