Financial Theory

Yale Course , Prof. John Geanakoplos

Lecture 1: Why Finance?

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Lecture Details :

Financial Theory (ECON 251)

This lecture gives a brief history of the young field of financial theory, which began in business schools quite separate from economics, and of my growing interest in the field and in Wall Street. A cornerstone of standard financial theory is the efficient markets hypothesis, but that has been discredited by the financial crisis of 2007-09. This lecture describes the kinds of questions standard financial theory nevertheless answers well. It also introduces the leverage cycle as a critique of standard financial theory and as an explanation of the crisis. The lecture ends with a class experiment illustrating a situation in which the efficient markets hypothesis works surprisingly well.

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website:

This course was recorded in Fall 2009.

Course Description :

Why Finance? - Utilities, Endowments, and Equilibrium - Computing Equilibrium - Efficiency, Assets, and Time - Present Value Prices and the Real Rate of Interest - Irving Fisher's Impatience Theory of Interest - Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice and Collateral, Present Value and the Vocabulary of Finance - How a Long-Lived Institution Figures an Annual Budget. Yield - Yield Curve Arbitrage - Dynamic Present Value - Social Security - Overlapping Generations Models of the Economy - Demography and Asset Pricing: Will the Stock Market Decline when the Baby Boomers Retire? - Quantifying Uncertainty and Risk - Uncertainty and the Rational Expectations Hypothesis - Backward Induction and Optimal Stopping Times - Callable Bonds and the Mortgage Prepayment Option - Modeling Mortgage Prepayments and Valuing Mortgages - History of the Mortgage Market: A Personal Narrative - Dynamic Hedging - Dynamic Hedging and Average Life - Risk Aversion and the Capital Asset Pricing Theorem - The Mutual Fund Theorem and Covariance Pricing Theorems - Risk, Return, and Social Security - The Leverage Cycle and the Subprime Mortgage Crisis - The Leverage Cycle and Crashes

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