The Collected Works of Author and Blogger Larry Roberts

Archive for 2008

Efficient Markets Theory The efficient markets theory is the idea that speculative asset prices always incorporate the best information about fundamental values and that prices change only because new information enters the market and investors act in an appropriate, rational manner with regards to this information(i). This idea dominated academic fields in the early 1970s. Efficient markets theory is an elegant attempt to tether asset prices to fundamentals through the common-sense notion that people would not behave in irrational ways with their money in financial markets. This theory is encapsulated by the “value investment” paradigm prevalent in much of the investment community. Efficient Markets Theory   In an efficient market, prices are tethered to perceived fundamental valuations. If prices fall…[READ MORE]

Bailouts and False Hopes One of the more interesting phenomenon observed during the bubble was the perpetuation of denial with rumors of homeowner bailouts. Many homeowners held out hope that if they could just keep current on their mortgage long enough, the government would come to their rescue in the form of a mandated bailout program. Part of this fantasy was not just that people could keep their homes, but that they could keep living their lifestyle as they did during the bubble. What few seemed to realize was any government bailout program would be designed to benefit the lenders by keeping borrowers in a perpetual state of indentured servitude. With all their money going toward debt service payments, little…[READ MORE]

Mortgage Default Losses There is risk of loss in any investment, and losses in collateralized debt obligations arise from the difference in the book value of the underlying mortgage note and the actual resale value of the collateral on the open market, if this collateral is subject to foreclosure. There is an important distinction that must be made between the default rate on a mortgage loan and the resultant loss incurred when a default occurs. High mortgage default rates do not necessarily translate into high mortgage default losses and vice-versa. Subprime loans have had high default rates since their introduction. When subprime mortgages began to capture broader market share starting in 1994, the rate of home ownership in the United…[READ MORE]

During the Great Housing Bubble, many speculators tried to make money through trading houses. The vast majority of these traders were not professionals but amateurs who thought they could be professionals. Most amateurs ended up losing money because they did not understand what it takes to be successful in a speculative market. The first and most obvious difference in the investment strategy between professional traders and the amateurs in the general public is their holding time. Traders buy with intention to sell for a profit at a later date. Traders know why they are entering a trade, and they have a well thought out plan for their exit. The general public adopts a “buy and hold” mentality where assets are…[READ MORE]

An option contract provides the contract holder the option to force the contract writer to either buy or sell a particular asset at a given price. A typical option contract has an expiration date, and if the contract holder does not exercise their contract rights by a given date, they lose their contractual right to do so. An option giving the holder the right to buy is a “call” option, and the option giving the holder the right to sell is a “put” option. The writer of an options contract is typically paid a fee or a premium for taking on the risk that prices may move against their position and the contract holder may exercise their right. The holder…[READ MORE]

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