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25 June 2009

Twittering the Wisdom of Crowds

Deserving an award for title alliteration, an article on Finextra has announced that Streambase Systems have connected their system to Twitter, the fashionable microblogging site. Regardless of the intent, it is an excellent marketing exercise by Streambase (er, maybe one that I should remember for the future!...).

Reasonable comments from Finextra at the end of the article, saying that Twitter is a notoriously bad source of information, very open to (designed for?) rumour, and as such it would be difficult to see what real information traders could extract from the noise. At one level, then rumour and counter-rumour are the basis of markets, although the recent financial crisis has illustrated how powerful rumours can be. I would suggest it begs the question as to when rumour and counter-rumour is part of the price formation process, and when it becomes market manipulation.

On a related note, the Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH), the financial theory that all information (including rumours) is reflected in current prices, has been coming under some attack in the press recently. With a fund-management and Monty-Pythonesque slant, James Montier of Société Générale takes EMH to task in his recent article in the FT (see Pablo Triana for an alternative view).

My opinion is that EMH has still got some legs in it as a model, but behavioural finance probably has a lot more to explain (or rationalise?) about this theory and others in light of recent events. Anyone got a different opinion, or do I need to open a Twitter account to find out?...

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