The Alchemy of Finance
By George Soros
Published in 1987
Thibault’s Score: 2/5
I initially picked up this book because I was interested in hearing what the much reviled George Soros had to say about finance. That being said, The Alchemy of Finance was a huge disappointment.
I neither got insight into any of the conspiracy theories surrounding George Soros nor did I get much value out of reading the book.
Soros opens up his treatise by explaining that he had set out to apply his philosophical ideas to finance. He explains his affinity for the scientific method and for thinkers like Karl Popper. He also makes a fascinating point: because financial markets have profit and loss, they can be used as an arena to test the objectivity of various theories.
The rest of the book is a lengthy explanation of Soros’ theory of reflexivity. Simply put, a reflexive system is one where the participants are both influenced by and influence the system.
Reflexivity as it applies to financial markets has many practical implications. For example, rising paper stock prices may bring real business benefits to a corporation. Suppliers might see the rising prices, and offer the corporation better deals. Customers might be attracted to the firm due to the stock price. This could cause a virtuous cycle.
The style of writing is incredibly boring and difficult to understand. It reminds me of the semi-autistic libertarian treatises on economics that I used to read.
I didn’t get many insights from this book, and do not recommend it.
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