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Cameron Passmore CIM, FMA, FCSI

Portfolio Manager

Benjamin Felix MBA, CFA, CFP

Associate Portfolio Manager
Contact
  • T613.237.5544 x 313
  • 1.800.230.5544
  • F613.237.5949
  • 265 Carling Avenue,
    8th Floor,
  • Ottawa, Ontario K1S 2E1

How hard is it to beat the market?

February 20, 2014 - 0 comments

How hard can it really be to beat the market? If I say that all available information is included in the price of a security, it follows that someone had to act on the available information in order for it to be included in the price. Someone had to get the information, make a decision to buy or sell the security, and then execute a trade for that information to be included in the price. So every time someone can be the first to act on new information they must make a profit, right?

In 1945, F.A. Hayek pointed out that there are two types of information:

  1. general information that is widely available to all market participants, and
  2. specific information about particular circumstances of time and place, including the preferences and needs of each unique investor. 

As a pricing mechanism, the market is able to aggregate all information into a single metric. That metric is the price, and it is constantly influenced by participants competing with each other to be the first to bring information to the market in order to make a profit. As hard as they try, no single market participant can have the full set of information because new information is being randomly generated constantly. If someone overhears a conversation between two Apple employees, they are in possession of information that nobody else has; if someone sees an oil tanker sink in the middle of the ocean, they have unique information; if a pension fund manager goes on a site visit to a mine and hears something before everyone else, they have specific information particular to their circumstances – there is an infinite amount of information like this being constantly generated as time passes, and due to the nature of the market, people want to use their information to profit. What does this mean for investors?  It means that all available information can be included in the price of a security without any single provider of information being able to profit from the information that they contributed.

So in short, it’s really really hard to beat the market.

By: Ben Felix with 0 comments.
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