So, as reported, I turned the book manuscript in Monday. Now I need a subtitle. There are those who think I need a title. I disagree, but I’ll get to that. The title of the book is The Myth of the Rational Market. The current subtitle, which is left over from the days that the people at Collins were thinking our best shot was to market the book as something of an investor guide, is Wall Street’s Impossible Quest for Predictable Markets. That doesn’t really work for me or my editor.
The book is a history of the rise and fall of the idea that financial markets are perfectly rational. It’s mostly about finance professors and economists, but I also follow them and their ideas as they migrate from campus to the real world. Here are a few subtitles we’ve toyed with so far:
A History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street
The Story of Free Markets, Modern Finance, and the Delusions of Wall Street
A Theoretical History of Wall Street’s Undoing
Then there’s the argument that the current title maybe belongs as subtitle to something catchier. “There are idiots,” is one possibility that has come up. It’s a line from an early paper by Larry Summers about what later came to be called noise traders–market participants who had no idea what they were doing but nonetheless drove prices and sometimes made lots of money. But I dunno. First of all, There Are Idiots: The Myth of the Rational Market, doesn’t really work together. Also, I think the current title, while a blunt instrument, is well suited to the times and makes clear what the book is about. It’s also already in the catalog.
Although … I did just think of one I kind of like, a reference to Alan Greenspan’s testimony last month when he said that “the whole intellectual edifice … collapsed.” I make a big deal out of this in my introduction, so how about The Edifice Collapsed: The Rise and Fall of the Myth of the Rational Market? Or maybe, just because it sounds better, even though he didn’t say it: The Edifice Crumbled: The Rise and Fall of the Myth of the Rational Market. Or just The Edifice Crumbled: The Myth of the Rational Market.
Anyway, suggestions are welcome. And a suggestion that is actually used of course gets you a free signed copy of the book when it comes out.
Update: Ezra Klein’s commenters are at work on this too.