Rooting for Wuhan

This, with one key correction that you will notice in the second paragraph, is the latest edition (mailed out Feb. 9) of my occasional e-mail newsletter, which you can subscribe to right here:

Hello, readers!

About five-and-a-half years ago, I spent a few days in Wuhan. It was on a China tour with four other U.S.-based journalists that had been organized by the China-United States Exchange Foundation (a trip that I wrote a little about in this very email newsletter at the time). The original travel plan had included an excursion to Urumqi in China’s far northwest, but a deadly car bombing at an Urumqi street market put the kibosh on that (as well as helping to inspire the government’s brutal effort to “re-educate” the area’s Muslim population in concentration camps), and our itinerary was changed to Beijing-Wuhan-Shanghai.

Wuhan is a city of 11 million on the Yangtze River 500 miles due east west of Shanghai. It has long been an inland transportation hub (“the Chicago of China,” people kept telling us; “Stove City” is another nickname, because it gets so hot in the summer, and there was some talk of it being the “Detroit of China” because they make cars there). It also has a big concentration of institutions of higher learning. As the Chinese government tried to stem the huge tide of young people moving to the country’s booming coastal cities, it had singled out Wuhan for attention and investment. Wuhan had been the second-biggest city in the world without a subway system, after Mumbai, but now it was getting one. (Mumbai now has a subway, too, but there’s just one line in operation there while Wuhan already has nine.) Futuristic new office parks were going up on the outskirts of town in an attempt to lure tech companies.

We flew from Beijing, where the skies had been surprisingly clear and blue, into the middle of a major pollution alert. As my trip-mate Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson wrote in the Financial Times:

Of the 199 cities tracked by my iPad’s air-quality app, Wuhan ranks as the most polluted by some way. On a day when the readings for Beijing and Shanghai are 112 (“lightly polluted”) and 152 (“unhealthy”) respectively, Wuhan gets the maximum score of 500 (“beyond index”). The Pm2.5 reading – reserved for particularly pernicious particulates – is almost 900.

This cast a pall over the city, making even beautiful parts like Wuhan University‘s hillside campus and nearby East Lake look mostly … gray. And there weren’t that many beautiful parts. Construction work on the subway and other projects was partly to blame, but even the not-under-construction parts of the city tended toward the sprawling and the charmless. Oh, and those futuristic new office parks on the outskirts? Mostly empty, while nearby apartment blocks appeared to be completely devoid of life. Lots of young people came to Wuhan for college, one local official told us resignedly, but it was really hard to get them to stick around after graduation.

We didn’t stick around long either, instead boarding a high-speed train to Shanghai, where a very pro-government venture capitalist assured us the next day that Wuhan was merely going through some growing pains. We were skeptical. Since then, we’ve been emailing one another every time Wuhan pops up in the news, and it’s never been for anything positive: The city has been beset by major floodsair-traffic controllers who fall asleep on the job, people dumping feces on “dancing grannies,” a Wuhan University medical student dying from excessive sperm donation, and … empty apartment buildings.Now, of course, the news from Wuhan has turned downright awful. After local authorities there bungled the initial reaction to the outbreak of a deadly and contagious new coronavirus, the Chinese government effectively abandoned Wuhan and the rest of Hubei province in hopes that cordoning the region off would slow the spread of the virus. Whether that’s working is still very much in question, but resulting shortages of hospital beds, medical supplies and medical personnel in and around Wuhan have definitely increased the death toll there. As of Monday morning China time, 871 of the 910 confirmed deaths from the disease worldwide had been in Hubei.

All of which is a long way of saying that I’ve been thinking a lot about the place lately. Especially the good parts, like the food and the people we met. Wuhan really needs boosters these days, and I’m rooting for it. Praying for it, too.

I haven’t been writing about it, or the virus in general. Diseases aren’t among my areas of expertise, although if this one keeps spreading I guess we’ll all have to get up to speed. I did want to share some of my (limited) experience with Wuhan, though, and this seemed like a better place to do that than my column.

So what have I been writing about in said column?

Academic publishing. Yes, it might seem a little arcane, but there’s lots of money in textbooks and even more in scientific journals, and a battle under way for control of scholarly publishing that will shape how scientific research is communicated and even conducted. I wrote about a rumored executive order from the Trump White House (it’s still only a rumor) that would require all government-funded research to be published without paywalls, then went to a conference in Berlin to learn about how publishers are coping with similar efforts in Europe. There’s more to come in that vein, but in the meantime I also just wrote about why college-textbook prices have stopped skyrocketing, and whether that can last.

How and where we live. Walking around the lovely Berlin neighborhood of Dahlem, where multi-million-euro mansions co-exist comfortably with apartment buildings, gave me the lead-in to a discussion of the strangeness of single-family zoning that I’d been meaning to write for a while. I also wrote about people leaving Amsterdam, London and Paris; people leaving California for nearby states; people leaving New York, Illinois and California for all over; and the changing politics of housing in California.

Transportation. I wrote a followup to my July saga about Amtrak’s long-distance trains, this time with an (I think) more sophisticated analysis of the railroad’s finances. That same week, Devin Leonard had a great Bloomberg Businessweek story about Amtrak’s feathers-ruffling CEO, and a few days later I wrote a column about the U.S. freight-rail successes that Amtrak’s creation in the 1970s helped enable. I also wrote about how much a parking space in Manhattan is really worth.

Christmas. Just one column, but a loooong one, detailing the role of Washington Irving and a few other early-19th-century New Yorkers in creating the modern Christmas holiday. It’s also available free of paywalls (but also free of illustrations and links) at Yahoo! Finance.

Some other things. “The Secret to America’s Low, Low Taxes,” “How Soybeans Became Ubiquitous” (also available as “intelligent audio for busy people” from something called Curio), “Lots of Teens Are Still Shunning Cars,” “A 1988 Climate Warning Was Mostly Right,” and “U.S. Could Actually Use More Nigerian Immigrants.”

Till next time,


Reading while traveling

This is the latest edition (mailed out June 29) of my occasional e-mail newsletter, which you can subscribe to right here:

Hello, readers!

You travel to see and experience new things, and meet new people. But also to read a lot, right?

Reading is something to do while you’re in transit, when you’re wide-awake from jet lag at 2 a.m., and when you’re worn out from all that seeing and experiencing and meeting and need a break. It’s also a way to learn about the places you’re visiting. And if you’re someplace where the internet doesn’t work very well, and you’ve already downloaded a bunch of books on your Kindle or iPad, it’s something to do when you can’t get online.

So, yeah, I’m in China at the moment, and I’ve been reading a lot.

I left San Francisco last Wednesday morning and arrived in Beijing Thursday afternoon. About half of the difference was time zones, but that still left lots of hours in the air. I had meant to spend a bunch of that time writing a column, but the wifi on the plane wasn’t working and I didn’t have a plan for a column that wouldn’t require research and hyperlinks. Because I had committed to getting some work done, watching movies felt like cheating. So I read.

First I went through the big pile of newspapers I had collected in the United lounge at SFO (FT, NYT, WSJ, San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Mercury-News). Then I started in on one of the books about China that I had downloaded onto my iPad: Michael Schuman’s Confucius and the World He Created.

Michael and I worked together at Time, although he was in Hong Kong and I was in New York and we only met once. Now he too writes for Bloomberg View, amongother places, and lives in Beijing with his wife, CNBC reporter Eunice Yoon. I was planning to have dinner with them Friday night, and figured it would be good form to have read his book first. As it turns out, dinner got moved up to Thursday night and I had to report to Michael that I was only 71% done, according to Kindle. But the remaining 29% included many pages of footnotes, so I was closer than I thought.

It was totally worth the effort — the book is an entertaining tale that gave me a much better sense than I had before of the constants in Chinese civilization over the past two millennia. Continuity is also a major theme of Tim Clissold’s Chinese Rules: Mao’s Dog, Deng’s Cat, and Five Timeless Lessons from the Front Lines in China, which was the ebook I moved onto after Schuman’s. I had wanted to download Clissold’s memoir of his early days in the country, Mr. China, which my Beijing-based friend Mina Guli had recommended, but that wasn’t available in electronic form. So I bought Chinese Rules instead, and discovered at the end of the first chapter that Mina — Clissold’s former business partner — was a major character in the book.

The two of them had spent several years, starting in 2005, helping Chinese companies get carbon credits under the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism. Clissold tells that story quite entertainingly, and deftly weaves in a lot of Chinese history. The five “Chinese rules” come across as awkward add-ons intended to package the book as management advice, but the rest is so good that it really doesn’t matter.

After I finished Clissold’s book I started in on Jonathan Spence’s Emperor of China: Self-Portrait of K’ang-Hsi, which assembles the scattered writings of the great 17th and 18th century Qing-dynasty ruler into something like an autobiography. I’ve started sleeping through the night and haven’t been on any more airplanes, so I haven’t gotten all that far into it yet. But this passage seemed worth sharing:

Usually, north of the Wall, we drink river water all the time, and it’s not harmful; but in summer one has to be careful of mountain streams if no rain has fallen for some time to wash away the impurities, just as one has to watch out for dysentery if the springs have been stirred up by rain. While on the march it’s dangerous to drink from the ditches at the roadside—they can give you cholera. If there’s no decent water to be found, you must just distill what there is, and make tea with it.

This was more than a century before John Snow figured out that a contaminated well in London was the source of a cholera epidemic and that boiling water was a good idea. The Chinese knew some stuff that Europeans didn’t.

Maybe they still do. Another book that I’ve been reading in actual paper is The China Model: Political Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy by Daniel A. Bell, a Canadian political theorist who teaches at Tsinghua University in Beijing. In this age of Brexit and of Trump, that sounds like a pretty timely topic, so I’ll be meeting with him tomorrow. Expect a column, or two, out of that.

So far the columns I’ve written here have been on Brexit and the experts and on theGreat Firewall. Before I came to China I wrote about the inevitable weaknesses of corporate boards, the meaning of affluence, the non-zero-sum side of Uber,PreCheck and graphene, among other things.

I’m in China (including Hong Kong) for another week and a half. And I’m hoping I can finish another book or two while I’m here.

Till next time,


Consuming Swedes

I never knowingly ate a rutabaga before we moved to London in 2000. The sometimes-giant root vegetables — most likely a hybrid of a cabbage and a turnip — are called “swedes” in the British isles. The Swedes themselves apparently call them “rotabagge” or “rotbagge,” meaning something like “root lump.”

Not a glamorous name! And not a glamorous vegetable. Jane Grigson, my chief authority on English cuisine (and one of the most entertaining cookbook authors ever), wrote of the swede that:

As a vehicle for butter, with haggis and whisky, it is exactly right. But after a north country upbringing, I conclude that otherwise swede is a vegetable to be avoided.

My first experience in cooking a swede came after reading a newspaper article (I’m thinking it was in the Observer) that recommended grating one along with a few other former roots (carrots, maybe potatoes) and frying them up in a patty as a way to get the kids to eat their vegetables.

That wasn’t a big success — it tasted fine, but the kid (who was one or two at the time) didn’t really like it, and making and frying the patties was a lot of work. Over the past couple of years, though, I have developed an easier variant that has become one of my favorite winter dishes. All you need are a rutabaga/swede and a few of the only other vegetables you’ll find on sale at a New York farmers’ market in winter and early spring.

I usually go with a parsnip, a sweet potato and all or part of an onion:
Swede 1

The rutabaga has to be peeled, and the skin is so thick that I use a knife instead of a peeler. I also peel the parsnip and the onion, but just scrub the sweet potato. Then I chop Swede in cuisinarteverything into big chunks that go into a food processor with a shredding-disc attachment.

When everything’s shredded, I spread it out on a cookie sheet onto which I’ve already drizzled a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Then I put it in the oven.

How hot an oven? I haven’t really settled on a temperature. When I’m already roasting kale at 275 degrees, I cook the rutabaga mix at that temperature and it comes out really well, although it takes forever (two hours plus).

But it also works at 400 degrees if you keep an eye on it and mix it around frequently. As I write this I’ve got a batch cooking at 333 degrees, a temperature that allows me to step away and blog about cooking rutabagas while cooking rutabagas, but requires that I go back and toss them around every ten minutes.

In any case, the idea is for your root vegetables to start out like this:
Swede 2

And end up like this:

Swede 3

Along the way I add two or three tablespoons of butter and a pinch or three of salt. On occasion I have added a lot more butter than that. It certainly didn’t make things worse (rutabaga is a “vehicle for butter,” after all), but the returns seem to be diminishing. Also, I’ve cooked it with just olive oil and that’s fine too.

Screenshot 2016-04-03 18.43.36As for seasonings, I imagine there are herbs or spices that could work, but the nutty, slightly sweet flavor of the rutabaga and friends is so appealing that you really don’t want to mask it. Also, this tastes pretty good even if you don’t cook it to the level of crispy wonderfulness depicted above. But it’s not as crispily wonderful, of course.

I usually serve this in place of rice or potatoes at dinner. The nutrition info at left is for rutabaga that isn’t slathered with butter and salt. But still: look at all that Vitamin C! This is how Swedes avoided scurvy back in the day, apparently. And it’s more interesting than rice or potatoes.

The best part comes in the morning. Warmed up, these make for spectacular hash browns. I usually just put some in a bowl, microwave it for 30 seconds — with a little butter, of course — and drop an over-easy egg on top. A couple drops of Cholula sauce, and you have a Swedish-Mexican-English-American delicacy.

Multiculturally Spiced Chicken

multi spiced chicken


In the long, long ago, I wrote a lot about food on this blog. I’ve been thinking about starting to do that again, but have worried about the tone. I’ve been cooking for company for more than a quarter century now, so my experiments usually turn out pretty well. And does the world really need another guy writing smug accounts of how good that sautéed shad roe tasted?

In the long run, of course, the answer is yes (and the shad roe was spectacular). But it seemed propitious to (re)start with tonight’s somewhat failed experiment: roasted chicken pieces with a bunch of spices and spice blends out of the cabinet. The basic recipe is Mark Bittman’s: turn up the oven to 450 Fahrenheit, put some olive oil and maybe butter into a roasting pan, put it in the oven till it’s hot, throw in some salted and peppered chicken pieces, skin side up, let them cook for 15 minutes, turn them over and cover them with some sort of herb or spice blend and cook for 10 minutes more, turn them over again and cover them again with that herb or spice blend, cook another 10 minutes and you’re done.

We usually make this with Herbes de Provence, and it’s good. This time the chicken had been soaking overnight in whey (what’s left over when you strain regular yogurt to make Greek-ish yogurt, which Mrs. By Justin Fox does most every week) with a bit of salt, and I thought a different sort of seasoning would be appropriate. I found a jar of a seasoning blend called Borsari, which has been sitting in our spice cabinet for a couple of years and getting no use at all. The particular variety we have is called “orange-ginger blend,” but it mainly tasted like salt. By Justin Fox Junior then suggested Indian seasonings, so I added garam masala and coriander. He also noticed a container of Old Bay, tried it with the Borsari, and liked it. So I shook a little of all four over the chicken as I turned it.

The result was … good but way too salty. I blame the Borsari, and myself for using way too much of it. Mixing Old Bay and garam masala, though, might not be a bad idea at all.

Myth of the Rational Market on the Daily Show

[I can’t get the embedded Daily Show video that used to be here to work any more; but you can see it here.]

That was nice, huh? I got the call at about 7:30 Wednesday morning that the night’s guest had canceled and they were thinking about having me on as the replacement. Turns out it was Henry Waxman, who was in the hospital (they say he’s feeling better now). By about 10 a.m. it was definite that I was going to be the night’s guest. So I got my Daily Show gig. My line about the babies in high heels, in case you’re wondering, is a reference to this very funny segment.


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Video (and audio)

Loosening CEO purse-strings, Nightly Business Report commentary, Dec. 16, 2010.

Big government and big anger, Nightly Business Report commentary, Oct. 26, 2010.

Seeing the opportunity in uncertainty, Marketplace radio commentary, Sept. 20, 2010.

Techonomy Conference, August 5, 2010, parts one, two and three of a panel discussion on reinventing markets.

The Today Programme, BBC Radio 4, March 20, 2010.

Tea with the Economist, March 19, 2010.

Corporations are for profit, not politics, Marketplace radio commentary, Jan. 28, 2010.

Matrix/Housing Helix podcast, Oct. 12, 2009.

Leonard Lopate Show, WNYC Radio, Oct. 8, 2009.

Midmorning, Minnesota Public Radio, Sept. 25, 2009.

FinReg21 interview, Sept. 23, 2009.

Brooklyn Book Festival panel on the Great Recession with Naomi Klein et. al. (on C-SPAN BookTV), Sept. 13, 2009.

The Tom Keene Show (mp3 file), Bloomberg Radio, Sept. 9, 2009.

The Big Think, Aug. 28, 2009.

Authors@Google, Aug. 12, 2009.

World Affairs Council of San Francisco (on C-SPAN BookTV), Aug. 12, 2009.

NPR’s Planet Money, July 22, 2009.

The Diane Rehm Show, July 16, 2009.

Interview with Russ Roberts for Econtalk, July 13, 2009.

Robert Lenzner’s Street Talk at

On The Daily Show with John Stewart, July 1, 2009.

On CNBC’s Squawk on the Street, with Arthur Laffer, June 25, 2009.

Interview with Dan Gross for Slate’s Every Day I Read the Book, June 18, 2009.

Interview with Carol Off for CBC Radio’s As It Happens (my segment starts about halfway through), June 17, 2009.

Discussing the book on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, June 17, 2009.

Interview with Kai Ryssdal for public radio’s Marketplace, June 16, 2009.

Interview with Doug Henwood for WBAI and KPFA (my segment starts about halfway through), June 11, 2009.

Talking about the book and about green shoots with Felix Salmon on, June 5, 2009.

An interview on the publishing blog Galleycat, posted May 26, 2009.

Talking bank stress tests (and getting in a brief mention of the book) on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s As It Happens, May 7, 2009.

Speech at the Hertz Foundation 2009 Symposium, March 20, 2009.

The Myth of the Rational Market

Financial markets were supposed to know better. They were supposed to
be near-perfect processors of information and assessors of risk. They
were supposed to be steering us toward a more prosperous, less
economically volatile future. Then they failed, spectacularly. Justin
Fox’s The Myth of the Rational Market tells the story of how
we came to believe that financial markets knew best, and how that
belief steered us wrong. Chronicling the rise and fall of efficient
market theory and its century-long role in the making of the modern
financial industry, the book is both history and intellectual whodunit.
It brings to life the people and ideas that forged modern finance and
investing, from the Great Depression and into the financial calamity of
today. It’s a tale largely about professors, but professors who made
and lost fortunes, battled fiercely over ideas, beat the house in
blackjack, wrote bestselling books, and played major roles on the world
stage. It’s also a tale of Wall Street’s evolution, the power of the
market to generate wealth and wreak havoc, and free-market capitalism’s
recurrent war with itself.

MythoftheRationalMarket hc c The efficient market hypothesis—long
part of academic folklore but codified in the 1960s at the University
of Chicago—has evolved into a powerful myth. It has been the driver of
trillions of investing dollars, the inspiration for index funds and
vast new derivatives markets. In its strongest form, the theory holds
that the decisions of millions of investors, all digging for
information and striving for an edge, inevitably add up to rational,
perfect markets. That belief has crumbled.

The Myth of the Rational Market introduces a new wave of scholars who no longer teach that
investors are rational or that markets are always right. Many now agree
with Yale professor Robert Shiller that efficient market theory
“represents one of the most remarkable errors in the history of
economic thought.” Today the theory is giving way to new hypotheses of
market behavior growing out of psychology, physics, evolutionary
biology—and even  traditional economics. In his landmark intellectual
history, Fox uncovers the new ideas that may drive markets in the
century ahead.

A Myth of the Rational Market Q&A

1.    What is the myth of the rational market?

Most simply, it’s the belief that financial markets can be relied upon
to get things right. In the context of my book, it refers to the
academic theory most commonly known as the efficient market
hypothesis—although I often refer to it as rational market theory
because that’s shorter and, for those of us who aren’t finance
professors, clearer.

2.    What is main takeaway of your book?

That financial markets possess many wonderful traits, but that
rationality is not always among them. And that relying on markets to be
right all the time can be a very dangerous thing to do.

3.    Does your book explain the current financial crisis or any aspect of it?

Yes. Financial decision-making and financial regulation had been
restructured over the past couple of decades around the notion that
market prices are correct. If market prices and formulas built around
market prices said one thing, the thinking went, then who was a Federal
Reserve chairman or investment bank CEO to say they were wrong? It was
a suspension of judgment on a mass scale, and it turned out really

4.    How is The Myth of Rational Market any different from other books on economic history?  What is its unique appeal?

I don’t know of any other book that tells the story of the rise and
fall of the idea that financial markets are always right. So that’s
unique. Beyond that, I’ve tried really hard to make the book exhaustive
without being exhausting. It’s written for the lay reader, but also
meant to withstand the scrutiny (I hope) of the academic reader.

5.    What are some of the practical lessons of the book and do they have any application to economic recovery?

The most important practical lesson of the book in the context of the
current economic situation is that financial markets don’t know
everything. They know a lot, and the signals they send shouldn’t be
completely ignored. But when the market decrees that a collateralized
debt obligation is worth a certain amount, or that a trader at Lehman
Brothers should be paid a certain amount, or that a speech by the
Treasury Secretary is no good, it often gets things entirely backwards.
Our society (and our financial markets) cannot survive and thrive if
all decisions are left to the market.

Oh, and one another practical lesson: Stocks are a much better long-run
investment when they’re cheap by historical standards (as measured by
price-to-earnings or price-to-book ratio) than when they’re expensive.

6.    Although rational market theory was at first controversial, why did it become so widely accepted as standard practice?

First of all, because the facts seemed to back it up. For example:
Finance scholars argued in the mid-1960s that the superstar mutual fund
managers of the day were beating the market only by taking crazy risks
that would eventually backfire. Within a couple of years, most of those
stars had flamed out. More broadly, rational market theory offered
straightforward answers—some of them correct—to a lot of questions that
had long plagued investors, corporate managers and regulators.

7.    In recent decades, you note the theory traveled beyond the stock
market to apply to other securities and especially to what came to be
known as derivatives. Do you think this played a major role in the
current economic crisis?

Yes it did. Although it’s not perfectly rational all the time, the
stock market does process information quickly and handles even really
bad news in a mostly orderly fashion. The same can usually be said for
the organized exchanges in derivatives such as stock options and
commodity futures. The off-exchange markets for mortgage securities and
over-the-counter derivatives never developed the rules and contingency
plans characteristic of well-established exchanges, yet were still
expected to perform the same functions. When hit by adversity in the
summer of 2007, many of these markets stopped functioning entirely.
That, as much as anything else, was what turned a financial problem
into a crisis.

8.    What can today’s investors learn from studying rational market theory?

The market isn’t rational, but neither am I. Over the course of
researching and writing this book, I actually moved more and more of my
investment portfolio into index funds. It wasn’t because I think nobody
can beat the indexes, or that currently prevailing market prices are by
definition right. But index funds charge the lowest fees, and I’ve
become increasingly  dubious that in my spare time I can pick stocks or
investment managers that will beat the market after fees.

For those with more time and perseverance than I possess, the big
lesson from the fall of rational market theory is that value investing
works—but it works in large part because it’s very hard to stick to.

9.    What do you see as the future of Wall Street?

We’ll have a long period of rethinking and relative sobriety, and then
make all the same mistakes (or at least similar ones) again in 50 years
or so.

10.     How did you come upon the idea of writing this book? And, how did you conduct the research?

The particular thing that got me started was encountering a book
in 2002 by a finance professor, Peter Bossaerts of Caltech, that said
the efficient market hypothesis had outlived its usefulness. What
interested me was that Bossaerts sounded almost wistful about it—he
wasn’t an efficient-market critic, just a realist. I knew there was a
debate about the efficient market. This was the first hint I got that
it was more or less over.

It led to a 2002 Fortune article titled “Is the Market Rational? No, say the experts. But neither are you, so don’t go thinking you can outsmart it.”
Which in turn led to a book contract, six months spent reading through
old academic journals at the New York Public Library and Columbia
Business School Library and interviewing economists and finance
scholars across the country, then years of thinking, writing, and much
more reading and interviewing. Oh, and lots of staring blankly at a
computer screen.

Reviews etc.


Twilight of the Efficient Markets, Cosmo Shalizi, American Scientist, November-December 2009. “Fox’s explanations of technical material are superbly accurate and
readable … Clearly the result
of many years of research and reading, the book is—its epilogue on the
ongoing financial crisis notwithstanding—in no sense a rush job.
Rather, it is a model of what the popularization of social science can
be, but too rarely is, and it will continue to be read when the current
crisis is many years behind us.”

“The Myth of the Rational Market” (no link available), Harvard Business Review, October 2009. An “insightful book.” Fox’s “smart journalistic eye and fine prose keep the theoretical discussion lively.”

School for Scoundrels, Paul Krugman, New York Times Book Review, Aug. 9, 2009. “Do we really need yet another book about the financial crisis? Yes, we
do — because this one is different. … 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.”

Myth of the Rational Market: the rise and fall of the idea of market rationality, Cory Doctorow, boingboing, July 15, 2009. “[W]hat Fox has put together is a thoughtful, often fascinating, always
illuminating history of the idea of market rationality, and the
fortunes of the economists, bankers, regulators, philosophers and
psychologists who’ve sought to explain the stormy seas of the market
(and to get rich while doing it, of course).”

‘Myth of the Rational Market’ says you can’t predict stock market, Richard Eisenberg, USA Today, June 29, 2009. “Fox spends more than 300 yawn-inducing pages
slogging through the rise and eventual fall of the rational-market
theory (his 2002 Fortune article inspiring the book was far more interesting).”

Rational Man, Buttonwood’s notebook, “An intellectual tour-de-force … one of the two financial books I have
enjoyed most this year.”

Slaves to Some Defunct Economist, The Economist, June 11, 2009. “Fascinating and entertainingly told. … Mr Fox has written a worthy successor to Capital Ideas, the late
Peter Bernstein’s 1990s classic on the emergence of the rational-market
myth: bang up-to-date; alas, without the happy ending.”

The Price is (Usually) Right, Burton G. Malkiel, The Wall Street Journal, June 10, 2009. “Mr. Fox’s book is really a lively chapter in the history of ideas … Among much else, Mr. Fox presents lucid explanations of Portfolio
Theory, the Capital Asset Pricing Model and Option Pricing Theory
without the use of a single equation. And he brings the major players
in his drama to life with an appealingly breezy style. … With The Myth of the Rational Market Mr. Fox has produced a valuable
and highly readable history of risk and reward. He has not, however,
been able to bury the hypothesis that our securities markets are
usually remarkably efficient.”

Yale Oddball, Math Whiz Drove Efficient Market to Ruin, James Pressley, Bloomberg, June 9, 2009. “A rich history world’s most seductive investing
idea, the efficient markets theory.
The jacket copy is right to call this ‘an intellectual

An Economic Model Turned to Myth, John Authers, Financial Times, June 8, 2009. An “excellent new history … impressively broad and richly researched.”

On Wall Street, the Price Isn’t Right, Roger Lowenstein, The Washington Post, June 7, 2009. “Fox … spins a fascinating historical narrative. … Fox recognizes that true believers in the market’s efficiency suffered
from a ‘blinkered’ mindset and ‘tunnel vision.’ Yet I think he lets
them off too easily.”

A Most Inefficient Theory, Glenn C. Altschuler, Barron’s, June 1, 2009. A “lucid, lively and learned account.”

The Myth of the Rational Market, Robert J. Hughes, SmartMoney, May 22, 2009. “What makes Fox’s book so rewarding and so readable is his way with the telling anecdote.”

The Myth of the Rational Market, Rob Horning, Popmatters, May 21, 2009. “The slurry of names sometimes muddles what is otherwise a lucid
synthesis of the ideas that went into what Fox calls the rational market.”

The Myth of the Rational Market, Publishers Weekly, May 18, 2009 (ninth item down), starred review. “[T]he rare business history that reads like a thriller. … A must-read for anyone interested in the markets, our economy or government, this dense but spellbinding work brings modern finance and
economics to life.”

The Myth of the Rational Market, Library Journal, May 15, 2009 (seventh review down), “Fox argues convincingly …
The style here is journalistic, with personal stories that make the
book entertaining, but ultimately this is a history of academic
thought …”

Two Books, April 24, 2009. Menzie Chinn of the University of Wisconsin and Econbrowser discusses The Myth of the Rational Market and George Akerlof and Robert Shiller’s Animal Spirits: “They are both important books. Well worth reading.”

Other coverage

The price is not always right and markets can be wrong, Richard Thaler, Financial Times, Aug. 5, 2009. Economist Thaler praises Myth in an essay differentiated the “no free lunch” and “the price is right” versions of the efficient market hypothesis.

Poking Holes in a Theory of Markets, Joe Nocera, The New York Times, June 6, 2009. In his weekly column, Nocera calls Myth “an engaging history of what might be called the rise and fall of the efficient market hypothesis.”

De mythe van de rationele markt, April 14, 2009. Katrijn de Ronde of Dutch financial website z24 runs through the main arguments of the book. In Dutch.