George Soros - The Alchemy of Finance (1987)
21 Sourced Quotes
Economic theory is devoted to the study of equilibrium positions. The concept of equilibrium is very useful. It allows us to focus on the final outcome rather than the process that leads up to it. But the concept is also very deceptive. It has the aura of something empirical: since the adjustment process is supposed to lead to an equilibrium, an equilibrium position seems somehow implicit in our observations. That is not true. Equilibrium itself has rarely been observed in real life — market prices have a notorious habit of fluctuating.
I would be lying, however, if I claimed that I could always formulate worthwhile hypotheses on the basis of my theoretical framework. Sometimes there were no reflexive processes to be found; sometimes I failed to find them; and, what was the most painful of all, sometimes I got them wrong. One way or another, I often invested without a worthwhile hypothesis and my activities were not very different from a random walk.
The generally accepted view is that markets are always right — that is, market prices tend to discount future developments accurately even when it is unclear what those developments are. I start with the opposite view. I believe the market prices are always wrong in the sense that they present a biased view of the future.
Money values do not simply mirror the state of affairs in the real world; valuation is a positive act that makes an impact on the course of events. Monetary and real phenomena are connected in a reflexive fashion; that is, they influence each other mutually. The reflexive relationship manifests itself most clearly in the use and abuse of credit.