More on the “Efficiency” of US Stock Markets – Evidence from 1871 to 2003

In a pivotal article, Andrew Lo writes,

Many of the examples that behavioralists cite as violations of rationality that are inconsistent with market efficiency loss aversion, overconfidence, overreaction, mental accounting, and other behavioral biases are, in fact, consistent with an evolutionary model of individuals adapting to a changing environment via simple heuristics.

He also supplies an intriguing graph of the rolling first order autocorrelation of monthly returns of the S&P Composite Index from January 1971 to April 2003.

LoACchart

Lo notes the Random Walk Hypothesis implies that returns are serially uncorrelated, so the serial correlation coefficient ought to be zero – or at least, converging to zero over time as markets move into equilibrium.

However, the above chart shows this does not happen, although there are points in time when the first order serial correlation coefficient is small in magnitude, or even zero.

My point is that the first order serial correlation in daily returns for the S&P 500 is large enough for long enough periods to generate profits above a Buy-and-Hold strategy – that is, if one can negotiate the tricky milliseconds of trading at the end of each trading day.

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