The other day I was walking down the park at night when I saw some teenagers hanging out around near a school. They were dressed with hoodies and caps, and as I went by they opened their spray paint cans and started painting a master piece on one of walls.
The only thing I could think then was this is too stereotypical. I then thought about betting my money on that they would have skateboards around. As soon as they were done drawing their misspelled artwork, sure enough they pulled out the skateboards. Could have won money easily. The next thought that came to my mind was how few degrees of freedom they had. In other words, how predictable they were.
Then the idea came to my mind, people and markets are not that different. A predictable market (one which you know what the price will be in the future) is a very inefficient market since it is not optimizing well the allocation of resources. On the other hand, a very efficient market is hard to predict since it is always at the right price given the available information. Because of this, it is impossible to predict whether the price will go up or down in the future.
Now how do the two relate? Well inefficient markets and predictable people have one important thing in common: They are easy to control. And why is that important? Because as soon as you understand this, you can take advantage of it. In the case of the markets, you can win money. In the case of people, you can get them to do things you want, or predict how they’ll react to your behavior.
More importantly though, an efficient market behaves ‘on its own will’, since no one is controlling the price; we could say it’s a free market. I think this applies to people as well. A person who is truly free is not predictable since it’s being controlled by no one else. And don’t get me wrong, being a graffiti-skateboarder-hoodie-teenager doesn’t necessarily implies predictability as long as it is a conscious decision. As a market with predictable cycles which reacts immediately to people taking advantage, a person who decides to follow a pattern consciously can always adapt to the circumstances and free themselves from the trend as soon as it is no longer desirable.