William A. Brock

William A. Brock is Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Research Professor at the University of Missouri, and a member of the National Academy of Science.

  • The Importance of Small Decisions

    The Importance of Small Decisions

    Michael J. O'Brien, R. Alexander Bentley, and William A. Brock

    How people make decisions in an era of too much information and fake news.

    Humans originally evolved in a world of few choices. Prehistoric, preindustrial, and predigital eras required fewer decisions than today's all-access, always-on world of too much information. Economists have largely discarded the idea that agents act rationally and the market follows suit. It seems that no matter how small or innocuous a decision might seem, there's almost no way to guess the effect it might have. The authors of The Importance of Small Decisions view decisions and their outcomes from a different perspective: as key elements in the evolution of culture. In this trailblazing book, they examine different kinds of decisions and map the outcomes, both short- and long-term. Drawing on this, they introduce a map of social behavior that captures the essential elements of human decision-making. The authors look at the New England Patriots' decision in 2000 to draft an underachieving college quarterback named Tom Brady; they consider Warren Buffett's investment strategy; and they chart the “dancing landscape” of a college applicant's decision-making environment. Finally, they show that decisions can be ranked according to transparency of choice and social influence. When fake news seems indistinguishable from real news and when the internet offers a cacophony of voices, they warn, we can't afford to crowdsource our decisions.

    • Hardcover $24.95 £20.00
  • Nonlinear Dynamics, Chaos, and Instability

    Nonlinear Dynamics, Chaos, and Instability

    Statistical Theory and Economic Evidence

    William A. Brock, David A. Hsieh, and Blake LeBaron

    Brock, Hsieh, and LeBaron show how the principles of chaos theory can be applied to such areas of economics and finance as the changing structure of stock returns and nonlinearity in foreign exchange.

    Chaos theory has touched on such fields as biology, cognitive science, and physics. By providing a unified and complete explanation of new statistical methods that are useful for testing for chaos in data sets, Brock, Hsieh, and LeBaron show how the principles of chaos theory can be applied to such areas of economics and finance as the changing structure of stock returns and nonlinearity in foreign exchange. They use computer models extensively to illustrate their ideas and explain this frontier research at a level of rigor sufficient for others to build upon as well as to verify the soundness of their arguments. The authors, who have played a major role in developing basic testing methods that are effective in detecting chaos and other nonlinearities, provide a detailed exposition of empirical techniques for identifying evidence of chaos. They introduce and describe the BDS statistic, an easy-to-use test that detects the existence of potentially forecastable structure, nonstationarity, or hidden patterns in time-series data and that can be adapted to test for the adequacy of fit of forecasting models. An extensive performance evaluation of the BDS is included. Nonlinear Dynamics, Chaos, and Instability also reviews important issues in the theoretical economics literature on chaos and complex dynamics, surveys existing work on the detection of chaos and nonlinear structure, and develops models and processes to discover predictable sequencing in time-series data, such as stock returns, that currently appear random.

    • Hardcover $14.75 £11.50