By Karen Guzman
Students from universities across the United States and Europe convened at the Yale School of Management for the 2019 Yale Summer School in Behavioral Finance from June 24 to 28.
The one-week program is an intensive PhD course in behavioral finance, led by Yale SOM faculty members who are leaders in the growing field. Held every two years, the program draws students in finance and economics. More than 40 students from 14 countries attended this year.
“We started the program because, while behavioral finance is a very active area of research—it’s being used to understand bubbles, household financial decisions, and corporate actions—relatively few schools offer a course on it for their graduate students,” said Nicholas Barberis, the Stephen and Camille Schramm Professor of Finance.
“Yale SOM is a natural place to run the summer school,” Barberis said. “You could say that modern behavioral finance started at Yale, through the seminal work of Robert Shiller in the 1980s. Ever since, Yale SOM faculty such as William Goetzmann, myself, James Choi, and Kelly Shue have been heavily involved in the field.”
Other Yale faculty participating in the program this year include finance faculty members Choi, Stefano Giglio, and Shue. Speakers also came from the University of Southern California, Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina, the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, the Sloan School of Management at MIT, and AQR Capital Management.
The program is made possible by the generous support of the Whitebox Advisors Fund and its founder, Andrew Redleaf.
Half the summer school sessions are a systematic overview of the field, taught by Barberis. The remaining sessions cover specific topics in greater detail. Electra Ferriello, assistant director of the International Center for Finance, handled the program’s complex logistics.
Attendee Anastasia Buyalskaya, a PhD student at the California Institute of Technology, said the program’s courses depicted “more realistic models of human behavior” as compared to traditional financial models.
“Many of the existing models of financial decision making rely on pretty heroic assumptions about human cognition, often oversimplifying the human component,” she said. “Behavioral finance is finally creating more accurate models.”
Buyalskaya said that students learn from each other’s research, too: “It’s so nice to meet such an engaged group of peers.”
Ahmed Guecioueur, a student at INSEAD, also found the peer interactions during the program to be impactful. “The program had a critical mass of speakers and engaged peers,” he said.
Guecioueur said that he appreciated the program’s wide range of topics in behavioral finance and the cutting-edge research that the program included. “It’s been a great opportunity,” he said. “I’d recommend any finance or related PhD students take this program.