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The Myth of the Rational Market: A History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street by Justin Fox

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Chapter 1: Irving Fisher Loses His Briefcase, and Then His Fortune

The first serious try to impose reason and science upon the market comes in the early decades of the twentieth century. It doesn’t work out so well.

It is 1905. A well-dressed man in his late thirties talks intently into a pay phone at Grand Central Depot in New York. Between his legs is a leather valise. The doors of the phone booth are open, and a thief makes off with the bag. It is, given what we know of its owner, of excellent quality. Finding a willing buyer will not be a problem.

The contents of the valise are another matter. Stuffed inside is an almost-completed manuscript that brings together economics, probability theory, and real-world business practice in ways ...

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