Until now, the models we've used in this course have focused on the case where everyone can perfectly forecast future economic conditions. Clearly, to understand financial markets, we have to incorporate uncertainty into these models. The first half of this lecture continues reviewing the key statistical concepts that we'll need to be able to think seriously about uncertainty, including expectation, variance, and covariance. We apply these concepts to show how diversification can reduce risk exposure. Next we show how expectations can be iterated through time to rapidly compute conditional expectations: if you think the Yankees have a 60% chance of winning any game against the Dodgers, what are the odds the Yankees will win a seven game series once they are up 2 games to 1? Finally we allow the interest rate, the most important variable in the economy according to Irving Fisher, to be uncertain. We ask whether interest rate uncertainty tends to make a dollar in the distant future more valuable or less valuable.
This course attempts to explain the role and the importance of the financial system in the global economy. Rather than separating off the financial world from the rest of the economy, financial equilibrium is studied as an extension of economic equilibrium. The course also gives a picture of the kind of thinking and analysis done by hedge funds.
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