Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 43

Spotlight A Call for Nudges By John Rekenthaler As the ideas of Richard Thaler become policy in Washington, the Nudge author sees potential to change investor behavior in retirement planning. Richard Thaler believes that financial advisors have a major advantage over most economists: They know that investors are human. Thaler leads a relatively new area of research, behavioral economics, that attempts to “bound” the notion that financial markets are unfailingly rational. The success of Thaler’s efforts in bringing legitimacy to his field may be seen by the University of Chicago’s decision in 1995 to recruit him for a chaired position in its business school to become the school’s first behavioral economist. Thaler now presides over 15 faculty members in running Chicago’s Center for Decision Research. Thaler’s work has always been unfailingly practical, from his Ph.D. dissertation on pricing the value of a human life, to his seminal 1980s research on mean reversion in stock prices and the apparent outperformance of value stocks, to later work on motivating 401(k) participant behavior, which he called Save More for Tomorrow. Recently, he co-wrote the book Nudge (Penguin, 2009), which advocates that regulatory bodies use behaviorally gained knowledge to create policies that “nudge” consumers toward making optimal decisions. Proof that Nudge succeeds in its goal of carving out a philosophical middle ground may be seen in its diverse readership, which includes both President Barack Obama and David Cameron, the leader of Great Britain’s Conservative Party. In this free-ranging interview, Thaler discusses the development of behavioral economics, its influence in the current Obama administration, and what behavior economics can say about several current investment topics. John Rekenthaler: To start, should we be talking about behavioral finance or behavioral economics? Do you have a preference for which term I should use? Richard Thaler: I think behavioral economics as it sounds. It was really a question in public finance. If the government is going to do something that will make things safer, like improve a road or an airport, and it’s going to save three lives a year for the next 20 years, how much is that worth? Clearly, not an infinite amount, but something more than zero. It was mostly an econometrist exercise of estimating how much you had to pay people to get them to take risky jobs. In the midst of thinking about this problem, I decided it might be fun to ask people some questions. One of the questions I asked was: Suppose you’d been exposed to a rare disease, with a one in a 1,000 risk of dying; how much would you pay to eliminate that risk? Typically, people would give an answer in the range of $5,000. I’d then ask them: We’re running some research on this disease over at the hospital, and we need people to expose themselves to it. How much would you charge to participate in this study? People would typically give answers that were two or three orders of magnitude bigger: $500,000 or $5 million. Some people would say they wouldn’t do it at any price. Economic theory says those answers have to be about the same. This got me started on keeping a list of weird behavior on my blackboard. Eventually, I was introduced to the work of two Israeli psychologists, Daniel is broader. It’s applying psychology to the principals of economics, and finance is one branch of economics. For Morningstar’s readers, behavioral finance is what we should talk about. On the other hand, something like Save More for Tomorrow and principles such as loss aversion and overconfidence are more general than finance. Rekenthaler: Whether we call it behavioral economics or behavioral finance, where do the roots lie? Thaler: I can tell you my own roots started when I was a graduate student working on my doctoral dissertation. My dissertation was on the value of a human life. This is not as sexy MorningstarAdvisor.com 43
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Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009

Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009
Contents
New on MorningstarAdvisor.com
Letter from the Editor
Contributors
How Do You Use Behavioral Finance in Your Practice?
Investing in the Moment
Investment Briefs
How the Best Large-Cap Managers Rise Above the Rest
Don’t Give Up on Stocks Just Yet
Makeup of the Mind
A Top-Down Approach
In Practice: Patterns of Investor Irrationality
A Call for Nudges
The Furious Comeback of Emerging Markets
Junk-Bond Pioneer
Four Picks for the Present
Consumer Staples Hold Up in the Kitchen
Familiarity Can Breed Bad Investment Decisions
Leave the ‘Junk Rally’ Behind and Look for Quality at a Reasonable Price
Mutual Fund Analyst Picks
50 Most Popular Equity ETFs
Undervalued Stocks
New at Morningstar
Meet the New Boss, Same (School) as the Old Boss
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - Cover2
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 1
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 2
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - Contents
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 4
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 5
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - New on MorningstarAdvisor.com
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 7
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 8
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - Letter from the Editor
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - Contributors
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 11
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - How Do You Use Behavioral Finance in Your Practice?
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 13
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 14
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - Investing in the Moment
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 16
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 17
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 18
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - Investment Briefs
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 20
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 21
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - How the Best Large-Cap Managers Rise Above the Rest
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 23
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 24
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 25
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 26
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - Don’t Give Up on Stocks Just Yet
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 28
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 29
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - Makeup of the Mind
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 31
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - A Top-Down Approach
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 33
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 34
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 35
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 36
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 37
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 38
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 39
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - In Practice: Patterns of Investor Irrationality
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 41
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 42
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - A Call for Nudges
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 44
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 45
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 46
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 47
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - The Furious Comeback of Emerging Markets
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 49
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 50
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 51
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 52
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 53
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 54
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - Junk-Bond Pioneer
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 56
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 57
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - Four Picks for the Present
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 59
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 60
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - Consumer Staples Hold Up in the Kitchen
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 62
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 63
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - Familiarity Can Breed Bad Investment Decisions
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 65
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - Leave the ‘Junk Rally’ Behind and Look for Quality at a Reasonable Price
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 67
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - Mutual Fund Analyst Picks
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 69
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 70
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 71
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 50 Most Popular Equity ETFs
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 73
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - Undervalued Stocks
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 75
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 76
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 77
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - 78
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - New at Morningstar
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - Meet the New Boss, Same (School) as the Old Boss
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - Cover3
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2009 - Cover4
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