September 22, 2023

Efficient Market Hypothesis: Analysing the efficiency of the market

Efficient Market Hypothesis: Analysing the efficiency of the market

The discussion that arises among the investors is whether all the market participants are made aware of all the information that is how efficient the stock market is. The prices of any stock are maintained by the Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH), keeping in mind the investment properties that the stocks inherit. Also, the market participants should possess knowledge about the prices of the stock. It’s all the ideas and experiences that define how a market works. Unfortunately, there are no such laws written about finance. The theories related to finance is subjective. In this article, we will be seeing how the EMH or the Efficient Market Hypothesis lagged in explaining the working and behavior of the stock market. Finding out the number of flaws in the theories, it becomes equally important to mark its relevance in the modern inverting environment.


  • The Efficient Market Hypothesis maintains the prices of the stocks.
  • To analyze information to make the theory relevant enough is done by the use of computers.
  • The available information is reflected by the stock prices implied by the weak principles; the stock prices get divided into information made available publicly implied by the semi-strong tenets. And last, the information which is divided already into stock prices is implied by the strong principles.
  • Outperforming the market will be an impossible task stated by the theories.

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Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH) Tenets and Variations

The Efficient Market Hypothesis has three principles or tenets.

  • The week tenets
  • The semi-strong tenets
  • The strong tenets

First, the weak tenets imply that the present stock prices reflect all the available information. The past performance of the market becomes irrelevant to analyze how the stock will be in the future. Therefore, to achieve good returns, the technical analysis won’t be of any need. Secondly, the semi-strong tenets imply that the stock prices are divided into information that is made available publicly. Hence, the investors cannot use the fundamental analysis to make good gains or outperform the market.

Whether private or public is already divided into the stock prices, which is implied under the strong tenets, so the available information is not beneficial to anyone. Hence, the bottom line remains that gaining excessive profits is an impossible thing in the market, and the market now is perfect. Eugene Fama, the economist, developed the EMH in the 1960s.

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Problems of EMH

There is a lot of criticism related to the theory. The investors understand all the available information similarly as assumed by the EMH (Efficient Market Hypothesis). The EMH validity faces problems, too, because of the different ways of evaluating and valuing stocks. Some investors look for market opportunities undervalued while other investors analyze the market by its growth potential. Different investors have a different vision about stocks making it difficult to assess what stock would seem to be under an efficient market.

Another point that arises is that a single investor will not gain higher profits who invests the equal amount of funds like another investor, according to the EMH. The same number of returns can be gained by the investors possessing the same information. EMH defines that if anyone investor is making a profit, then all the other investors are profitable.

Thirdly, it won’t be possible for any investors to beat the market average in an efficient market even by putting in the best efforts. So the optimum investment strategy seems to be putting one’s investments in an index fund. Based on the profit and loss, the fund performance would vary. Some investors have regularly stayed ahead of the market. Warren Buffett is a prime example who does year on year.

Qualifying the EMH

The market, which is claimed to be efficient by Eugene Fama, is not always efficient, even by him. It takes a bit of time for the stocks to process the new information and reflects that in stock prices. The efficient hypothesis does not define the time needed for the stock prices to reach their fair value. Random events happening in the supposedly efficient stock market are all part and parcel, and eventually, prices will ride the norm.

As environmental eventualities or random occurrences are prevalent, we need to ask whether EMH somehow undermines itself. Eventualities should be considered when we talk about market efficiency, but the real efficiency reflects the information immediately, which in layman terms means that the prices reflect the new information effect immediately, which the stock characteristics show. Therefore, it should be right to admit that true market efficiency is impossible as EMH takes random things into the mix.

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Increasing Market Efficiency?

The relevance of the efficient market hypothesis is growing, and one shouldn’t shun the hypothesis. Based on the fundamental analytics or strict methods, automated investments have been on the rise, with the computerized systems extensively used to analyze trades, corporations and stock investments. If provided with the optimal power and speed, some computers can consolidate all the information and execute the analysis and do the trade as soon as possible.

Most of the decisions are still taken by humans despite the presence and increased usage of companies, so human error is very much present. This is true even at the institutional level, even if analytical machines are prevalent. So even though the skill of the institutional investors and individual determines the success we might get on the stock market, people will still look for the optimum method for getting returns higher than the market mean.

The Bottom Line

It is quite evident that the market will not achieve true efficiency. If one wants to achieve higher efficiency, the below points must be followed:

  • The analysis system of pricing stocks should be a universal one.
  • Human emotion should not be a part of the decision-making process of investments.
  • Access to the advanced and high-speed systems of analysis should be universal.
  • The investors should respond to the profit and losses in the stock market irrespective of the variety of factors separating them.

As one can see, it is impossible to even get one of the criteria met to achieve true market efficiency.

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