Can The Stock Market be Predicted?

Burton Malkiel published the first edition of A Random Walk Down Wall Street, his now-classic examination of the stock market. He was the first to apply the mathematical theory of random walks to Wall Street practices, theorizing that share prices could not be predicted due to their random quality.

 Malkiel's controversial viewpoint served to inspire a lot of stock picking investment contests over the years. Started partly out of curiosity and partly as a gimmick to entertain readers, the contests have served to show there is some wisdom behind Malkiel's theory: "A blindfolded monkey throwing darts at a newspaper’s financial pages could select a portfolio that would do just as well as one carefully selected by experts.”

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Starting in 1988, the Wall Street Journal inaugurated their annual Investment Dartboard Contest, pitting experts (and later, WSJ readers) against WSJ staffers lobbing actual darts at a stock table. The experts squeaked by in the initial battle, but over the years, the darts proved themselves a worthy competitor, winning almost (but not quite) as often.

Today, the Investment Dartboard Contest sponsored by the WSJ has been retired, with the publication citing a desire to devote more resources elsewhere to new features and stories. The darts "trumped the readers" (and beat the experts too) in the final contest in April of 2013, with impressive gains of 17.4%. However, enterprising investment analysts are finding new ways to test Malkiel’s hypothesis.