Don't Ask An Economist For Stock-Picking Advice

OVER the last few weeks, as the stock market has reached new highs, my thoughts have turned to my 85-year-old mother.

“O.K. Mr. Smarty-Pants,” she often asks me, “what stock should I buy now?”

She first asked me this question when I was an undergraduate at Princeton, majoring in economics. She asked again when I was a graduate student at M.I.T., earning a Ph.D. in economics. And she has asked it regularly during the last three decades when I have been an economics professor at Harvard.

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