Faculty & Research

Eugene F. Fama

Robert R. McCormick Distinguished Service Professor of Finance

Phone :
1-773-702-7282
Address :
5807 South Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637

Eugene F. Fama, 2013 Nobel laureate in economic sciences, is widely recognized as the "father of modern finance." His research is well known in both the academic and investment communities. He is strongly identified with research on markets, particularly the efficient markets hypothesis. He focuses much of his research on the relation between risk and expected return and its implications for portfolio management. His work has transformed the way finance is viewed and conducted.

Fama is a prolific author, having written two books and published more than 100 articles in academic journals. He is among the most cited researchers in economics.

In addition to the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, Fama was the first elected fellow of the American Finance Association in 2001. He is also a fellow of the Econometric Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was the first recipient of three major prizes in finance: the Deutsche Bank Prize in Financial Economics (2005), the Morgan Stanley American Finance Association Award for Excellence in Finance (2007), and the Onassis Prize in finance (2009). Other awards include the 1982 Chaire Francqui (Belgian National Science Prize), the 2006 Nicholas Molodovsky Award from the CFA Institute recognizing his work in portfolio theory and asset pricing, and the 2007 Fred Arditti Innovation Award given by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Center for Innovation. He was awarded doctor of law degrees by the University of Rochester and DePaul University, a doctor honoris causa by the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, and a doctor of science honoris causa by Tufts University.

Fama is chairman of the Center for Research in Security Prices at Chicago Booth, which was founded 40 years ago to create the finest tools for tracking, measuring, and analyzing securities data. He is also an advisory editor of the Journal of Financial Economics.

Fama earned a bachelor's degree from Tufts University in 1960, followed by an MBA and PhD from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business (now the Booth School) in 1964. He joined the GSB faculty in 1963.

Fama is a father of four and a grandfather of ten. He is an avid windsurfer and golfer, an opera buff, and a faded tennis player. He is a member of Malden Catholic High School's athletic hall of fame.

 

2013 - 2014 Course Schedule

Number Name Quarter
35901 Theory of Financial Decisions I 2013 (Fall)
35908 Research Projects: Finance 2014 (Spring)

2014 - 2015 Course Schedule

Number Name Quarter
35901 Theory of Financial Decisions I 2014 (Fall)
35908 Research Projects: Finance 2015 (Spring)

Other Interests

Windsurfing, golf, tennis, biking, old movies, opera.

 

Research Activities

Theoretical and empirical work on investments; price formation in capital markets; corporate finance.

With Kenneth R. French, "Disappearing Dividends: Changing Firm Characteristics or Lower Propensity to Pay," Journal of Financial Economics (April 2001).

"The Equity Premium," Journal of Finance (April 2002).

"New Lists: Fundamentals and Survival Rates," Journal of Financial Economics (August 2004).

"Disagreement, Tastes, and Asset Pricing" Journal of Financial Economics (March 2007).

"Profitability, Investment, and Average Returns," Journal of Financial Economics (December 2006).

For a listing of research publications please visit ’s university library listing page.

REVISION: A Five-Factor Asset Pricing Model
Date Posted: Apr  10, 2014
A five-factor model directed at capturing the size, value, profitability, and investment patterns in average stock returns is rejected on the GRS test, but for applied purposes it provides an acceptable description of average returns. The model’s main problem is its failure to explain the low average returns on small stocks that invest a lot despite low profitability. The performance of the model is not sensitive to the specifics of the way its factors are defined, at least for the definitions considered here.

REVISION: Was There Ever a Lending Channel?
Date Posted: Jul  25, 2013
The lending channel model posits that control of deposits that have reserve requirements allows the Fed to constrain the financing of the illiquid loans to businesses and consumers that are the comparative advantage of banks and their link to real activity. The constraint works because banks do not use traded liquid assets and liabilities with no reserve requirements to offset the effects of variation in deposits on loans. The results presented here are more consistent with a simple alternativ

REVISION: Does the Fed Control Interest Rates?
Date Posted: Jul  02, 2013
To what extent does TF, the target Federal funds rate set by the Fed, influence other rates? There is lots of variation in rates unrelated to TF, and any effects of TF on rates dissipate quickly for longer maturities. For short rates, all the tests have interpretations in terms of: (i) a Fed that has the power to control rates and uses it, and (ii) a Fed that has little power over rates or chooses not to exercise its power. In the end, there is no conclusive evidence (here or elsewhere) on th

REVISION: Capital Structure Choices
Date Posted: Sep  22, 2011
We examine three pairs of cross-section regressions that test predictions of the tradeoff model, the pecking order model, and models that center on market conditions. The regressions examine (i) the split of new outside financing between share issues and debt, (ii) the split of debt financing between short-term and long-term, and (iii) the split of equity financing between share issues and retained earnings. The pecking order does well until the early 1980s, when the share issues that are its ba

REVISION: Size, Value, and Momentum in International Stock Returns
Date Posted: Jun  23, 2011
In the four regions (North America, Europe, Japan, and Asia Pacific) we examine, there are value premiums in average stock returns that, except for Japan, decrease with size. Except for Japan, there is return momentum everywhere, and spreads in average momentum returns also decrease from smaller to bigger stocks. We test whether empirical asset pricing models capture the value and momentum patterns in international average returns and whether asset pricing seems to be integrated across the four

REVISION: The Adjustment of Stock Prices to New Information
Date Posted: Feb  15, 2011
There is an impressive body of empirical evidence which indicates that successive price changes in individual common stocks are very nearly independent. Recent papers by Mandelbrot and Samuelson show rigorously that independence of successive price changes is consistent with an efficient market, i.e., a market that adjusts rapidly to new information. It is important to note, however, that in the empirical work to date the usual procedure has been to infer market efficiency from the observed

REVISION: My Life in Finance
Date Posted: Mar  03, 2010
I was invited by the editors to contribute a professional autobiography for the Annual Review of Financial Economics. I focus on what I think is my best stuff. Readers interested in the rest can download my vita from the website of the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business. I only briefly discuss ideas and their origins, to give the flavor of context and motivation. I do not attempt to review the contributions of others, which is likely to raise feathers. Mea culpa in advance.

REVISION: Luck Versus Skill in the Cross Section of Mutual Fund Returns
Date Posted: Feb  08, 2010
The aggregate portfolio of U.S. equity mutual funds is close to the market portfolio, but the high costs of active management show up intact as lower returns to investors. Bootstrap simulations suggest that few funds produce benchmark adjusted expected returns sufficient to cover their costs. If we add back the costs in expense ratios, there is evidence of inferior and superior performance (non-zero true alpha) in the extreme tails of the cross section of mutual fund alpha estimates.

Editorial: Clinical Papers and Their Role in the Development of Financial Economics
Date Posted: Sep  14, 2009
This issue of the Journal of Financial Economics contains the first set of studies in the new Clinical Papers section. The objective of this section is to provide a high-quality professional outlet for scholarly studies of specific cases, events, practices, and specialized applications. By supplying insights about the world, challenging accepted theory, and using unique sources of data, clinical studies stand on their own as an important medium of research. Like the medical literature from which

New: The Behavior of Interest Rates
Date Posted: Feb  20, 2009
The evidence in Fama and Bliss (1987) that forward interest rates forecast future spot interest rates for horizons beyond a year repeats in the out-of-sample 1986-2004 period. But the inference that this forecast power is due to mean reversion of the spot rate toward a constant expected value no longer seems valid. Instead, the predictability of the spot rate captured by forward rates seems to be due to mean reversion toward a time-varying expected value that is subject to a sequence of apparent

New: Organizational Forms and Investment Decisions
Date Posted: Oct  07, 2008
This paper analyzes investment rules for various organizational forms that are distinguished by the characteristics of their residual claims. Different restrictions on residual claims lead to different decision rules. The analysis indicates that the investment decisions of open corporations, financial mutuals and nonprofits can be modeled by the value maximization rule. However, the decisions of proprietorships, partnerships, and closed corporations cannot in general be modeled by the market val

Disagreement, Tastes, and Asset Prices
Date Posted: Aug  08, 2008
Standard asset pricing models assume that (i) there is complete agreement among investors about probability distributions of future payoffs on assets, and (ii) investors choose asset holdings based solely on anticipated payoffs; that is, investment assets are not also consumption goods. Both assumptions are unrealistic. We provide a simple framework for studying how disagreement and tastes for assets as consumption goods can affect asset prices.

New: The Profitability and Equity Financing of Style Groups:1906-2006
Date Posted: Jul  15, 2008
We extend the evidence of Fama and French (1995) on the post-1962 profitability and equity financing of firms in different style groups (small versus big, value versus growth) to 1926-2006. The emphasis is on whether equity-financed investment varies with cashflows and price-to-book ratios in ways that support or violate the pecking order model of Myers (1984) or the Q theory of investment. The long-term perspective from the results for 1926-2006 provides insights into inferences about the pec

New: The Anatomy of Value and Growth Stock Returns
Date Posted: Dec  14, 2007
Average returns on value and growth portfolios are broken into dividends and three sources of capital gain: (1) growth in book equity, primarily from earnings retention, (2) convergence in price-to-book ratios (P/Bs) from mean reversion in profitability and expected returns, and (3) upward drift in P/B during 1927-2006. The capital gains of value stocks trace mostly to convergence: P/B rises as some value companies become more profitable and their stocks move to lower-expected-return groups. Gro

REVISION: Average Returns, B/M, and Share Issues
Date Posted: Oct  13, 2007
The book-to-market ratio, B/M, is a noisy measure of expected stock returns because B/M also varies with expected cashflows. Our hypothesis is that the evolution of B/M, in terms of past changes in book equity and price, contains independent information about expected cashflows that can be used to improve estimates of expected returns. The tests support this hypothesis, with results that are largely but not entirely similar for Microcap stocks (below the 20th NYSE market capitalization percent

REVISION: The Anatomy of Value and Growth Stock Returns
Date Posted: Sep  04, 2007
We break average returns on value and growth portfolios into dividends and three sources of capital gain, (i) growth in book equity primarily due to earnings retention, (ii) convergence in price-to-book ratios (P/B) due to mean reversion in profitability and expected returns, and (iii) upward drift in P/B during 1927-2006. The capital gains of value stocks trace mostly to convergence: P/B rises as some value firms become more profitable and move to lower expected return groups. Growth in book

New: Migration
Date Posted: Jul  09, 2007
Migration of stocks across size and value portfolios contributes to the size and value premiums in average stock returns. The size premium is almost entirely generated by the small-capitalization stocks that earn extreme positive returns and thus become big-cap stocks. The value premium comes from (1) value stocks that improve in type because their companies are acquired by other companies or because they earn high returns and migrate to a neutral or growth portfolio, (2) growth stocks that earn

REVISION: Dissecting Anomalies
Date Posted: Jun  10, 2007
The anomalous returns associated with net stock issues, accruals, and momentum are pervasive; they show up in all size groups (micro, small, and big) in cross-section regressions, and they are also strong in sorts, at least in the extremes. The asset growth and profitability anomalies are less robust. There is an asset growth anomaly in average returns on microcaps and small stocks, but it is absent for big stocks. Among profitable firms, higher profitability tends to be associated with abnor

REVISION: Migration
Date Posted: Feb  11, 2007
We study how migration of firms across size and value portfolios contributes to the size and value premiums in average stock returns. The size premium is almost entirely due to the small stocks that earn extreme positive returns and as a result become big stocks. The value premium has three sources: (i) value stocks that improve in type either because they are acquired by other firms or because they earn high returns and so migrate to a neutral or growth portfolio; (ii) growth stocks that earn

REVISION: Separation of Ownership and Control
Date Posted: Aug  14, 2006
This paper analyzes the survival of organizations in which decision agents do not bear a major share of the wealth effects of their decisions. This is what the literature on large corporations calls separation of ownership and control. Such separation of decision and risk bearing functions is also common to organizations like large professional partnerships, financial mutuals and nonprofits. We contend that separation of decision and risk bearing functions survives in these organizations in part

Agency Problems and Residual Claims
Date Posted: Oct  10, 2005
Social and economic activities, like religion, entertainment, education, research, and the production of other goods and services, are carried on by different types of organizations, for example, corporations, proprietorships, partnerships, mutuals and nonprofits. There is competition among organizational forms for survival. The form of organization that survives in an activity is the one that delivers the product demanded by customers at the lowest price while covering costs. The characteris

The Behavior of Interest Rates
Date Posted: Jun  15, 2005
The evidence in Fama and Bliss (1987) that forward interest rates forecast future spot interest rates for horizons beyond a year repeats in the out-of-sample 1986-2004 period. But the inference that this forecast power is due to mean reversion of the spot rate toward a constant expected value no longer seems valid. Instead, the predictability of the spot rate captured by forward raets seems to be due to mean reversion toward a time-varying expected value that is subject to a sequence of appare

Profitability, Growth, and Average Returns
Date Posted: Jun  15, 2005
Valuation theory says that expected stock returns are related to three variables: the book-to-market equity ratio (B/M), expected profitability, and expected investment. Given B/M and expected profitability, higher rates of investment imply lower expected returns. But controlling for the other two variables, more profitable firms have higher expected returns, as do firms with higher B/M. These predictions are confirmed in our tests. Our results are qualitatively similar to earlier evidence,

The Value Premium and the CAPM
Date Posted: Mar  16, 2005
We examine (i) how value premiums vary with firm size, (ii) whether the CAPM explains value premiums, and (iii) whether in general average returns compensate β in the way predicted by the CAPM. Loughran's (1997) evidence for a weak value premium among large firms is special to 1963 1995, U.S. stocks, and the book-to-market value-growth indicator. Ang and Chen's (2003) evidence that the CAPM can explain U.S. value premiums is special to 1926-1963. The CAPM's general problem is that variat

The Capital Asset Pricing Model: Theory and Evidence
Date Posted: Jun  23, 2004
The capital asset pricing model (CAPM) of William Sharpe (1964) and John Lintner (1965) marks the birth of asset pricing theory (resulting in a Nobel Prize for Sharpe in 1990). Before their breakthrough, there were no asset pricing models built from first principles about the nature of tastes and investment opportunities and with clear testable predictions about risk and return. Four decades later, the CAPM is still widely used in applications, such as estimating the cost of equity capital for f

Financing Decisions: Who Issues Stock?
Date Posted: May  04, 2004
Financing decisions seem to violate the central predictions of the pecking order model about how often and under what circumstances firms issue equity. Specifically, most firms issue or retire equity each year, the issues are on average large, and they are not typically done by firms under duress. We estimate that during 1973-2002 the year-by-year equity decisions of more than half of our sample firms violate the pecking order. And contradictions are more common among larger firms.

The Equity Premium
Date Posted: Nov  28, 2003
We estimate the equity premium using dividend and earnings growth rates to measure the expected rate of capital gain. Our estimates for 1951 to 2000, 2.55 percent and 4.32 percent, are much lower than the equity premium produced by the average stock return, 7.43 percent. Our evidence suggests that the high average return for 1951 to 2000 is due to a decline in discount rates that produces a large unexpected capital gain. Our main conclusion is that the average stock return of the last half-centu

New Lists: Fundamentals and Survival Rates
Date Posted: May  07, 2003
The class of firms that obtain public equity financing expands dramatically in the 1980s and 1990s. After 1979, the rate at which new firms are listed on major U.S. stock exchanges jumps from about 160 to near 550 per year, and the characteristics of new lists change. The cross-section of new list profitability becomes progressively more left skewed, and growth becomes more right skewed. The result is a sharp decline in new list survival rates. We suggest that the changes in the characteristics

Market Efficiency, Long-Term Returns, and Behavioral Finance
Date Posted: Dec  01, 2002
Market efficiency survives the challenge from the literature on long-term return anomalies. Consistent with the market efficiency hypothesis that the anomalies are chance results, apparent over-reaction to information is about as common as under-reaction. And post-event continuation of pre-event abnormal returns is about as frequent as post-event reversal. Consistent with the market efficiency prediction that apparent anomalies can also be due to methodology, the anomalies are sensitive to the

The Equity Premium
Date Posted: Jan  01, 2002
We estimate the equity premium using dividend and earnings growth rates to measure the expected rate of capital gain. Our estimates for 1951-2000, 2.55% and 4.32%, are much lower than the equity premium produced by the average stock return, 7.43%. Our evidence suggests that the high average return for 1951-2000 is due to a decline in discount rates that produces large unexpected capital gains. Our main conclusion is that the stock return of the last half-century is a lot higher than expected.

Testing Tradeoff and Pecking Order Predictions About Dividends and Debt
Date Posted: Jan  01, 2002
Confirming predictions shared by the tradeoff and pecking order models, more profitable firms and firms with fewer investments have higher dividend payouts. Confirming the pecking order model but contradicting the tradeoff model, more profitable firms are less levered. Firms with more investments have less market leverage, which is consistent with the tradeoff model and a complex pecking order model. Firms with more investments have lower long-term dividend payouts, but dividends do not vary t

Disappearing Dividends: Changing Firm Characteristics Or Lower Propensity To Pay?
Date Posted: Dec  07, 2001
The percent of firms paying cash dividends falls from 66.5 in 1978 to 20.8 in 1999. The decline is due in part to the changing characteristics of publicly traded firms. Fed by new lists, the population of publicly traded firms tilts increasingly toward small firms with low profitability and strong growth opportunities characteristics typical of firms that have never paid dividends. More interesting, we also show that controlling for characteristics, firms become less likely to pay dividends.

Characteristics, Covariances, and Average Returns: 1929-1997
Date Posted: Nov  05, 2001
The value premium in U.S. stocks returns is robust. The positive relation between average return and book-to-market equity (BE/ME) is as strong for 1929-63 as for the subsequent period studied in previous papers. Like others, we also find a size premium in stock returns. Small stocks have higher average returns than big stocks. The size premium is, however, weaker and less reliable than the value premium. The relations between average return and firm characteristics (size and BE/ME) are better e

Forecasting Profitability and Earnings
Date Posted: Nov  05, 2001
There is a strong presumption in economics that, in a competitive environment, profitability is mean reverting. We provide corroborating evidence. In a simple partial adjustment model, the estimated rate of mean reversion is about 40 percent per year. But a simple partial adjustment model with a uniform rate of mean reversion misses rich non-linear patterns in the behavior of profitability. Specifically, we find that mean reversion is faster when profitability is below its mean and when it is fu

Characteristics, Covariances, and Average Returns: 1929-1997
Date Posted: Nov  05, 2001
The value premium in U.S. stocks returns is robust. The positive relation between average return and book-to-market equity (BE/ME) is as strong for 1929-63 as for the subsequent period studied in previous papers. Like others, we also find a size premium in stock returns. Small stocks have higher average returns than big stocks. The size premium is, however, weaker and less reliable than the value premium. The relations between average return and firm characteristics (size and BE/ME) are better e

Taxes, Financing Decisions, and Firm Value
Date Posted: Nov  05, 2001
We use cross-section regressions to study how a firm's value is related to dividends and debt. With a good control for profitability, the regressions can measure how the taxation of dividends and debt affects firm value. Simple tax hypotheses say that value is negatively related to dividends and positively related to debt. We find the opposite. We infer that dividends and debt convey information about profitability (expected net cash flows) missed by a wide range of control variables. This infor

Multifactor Explanations of Asset Pricing Anomalies
Date Posted: Nov  05, 2001
Previous work shows that average returns on common stocks are related to firm characteristics like size, earnings/price, cashflow/price, book-to-market equity, past sales growth, long-term past return, and short term past return. Because these patterns in average returns apparently are not explained by the CAPM, they are called anomalies. We find that, except for the continuation of short-term returns, the anomalies largely disappear in a three-factor model. Our results are consistent with ratio

Size and Book to Market Factors in Earnings and Returns
Date Posted: Nov  05, 2001
We study whether the behavior of stock prices, in relation to size and book to market equity (BE/ME), reflects the behavior of earnings. Consistent with rational pricing, high BE/ME signals persistent poor earnings and low BE/ME signals strong earnings. Moreover, stock prices forecast the reversion of earnings growth observed after firms are ranked on size and BE/ME. Finally, there are market, size, and BE/ME factors in earnings like those in returns. The market and size factors in earnings help

Forecasting Profitability And Earnings
Date Posted: Nov  05, 2001
There is a strong presumption in economics that, in a competitive environment, profitability is mean reverting. We provide corroborating evidence. In a simple partial adjustment model, the estimated rate of mean reversion is about 40 percent per year. But a simple partial adjustment model with a uniform rate of mean reversion misses rich non-linear patterns in the behavior of profitability. Specifically, we find that mean reversion is faster when profitability is below its mean and when it is fu

Investment Decisions, Financing Decisions, and Firm Value
Date Posted: Nov  05, 2001
We estimate that the average value of a dollar invested in the U.S. corporate sector is $1.18. When we delete utilities and current assets, where opportunities for value added seem limited, the estimate jumps to $1.68. We use cross-section regressions to study how value is related to dividends and debt. The regressions can potentially identify tax effects, but they cannot disentangle other factors, including bankruptcy costs, agency costs, and asymmetric information. Simple tax stories say value

Value Versus Growth: The International Evidence
Date Posted: Jul  27, 2000
Value stocks have higher returns than growth stocks in markets around the world. For 1975-95, the difference between the average returns on global portfolios of high and low book-to-market stocks is 7.60% per year, and value stocks outperform growth stocks in 12 of 13 major markets. An international CAPM cannot explain the value premium, but a two-factor model that includes a risk factor for relative distress captures the value premium in international returns.

The Corporate Cost of Capital and the Return on Corporate Investment
Date Posted: Jul  20, 2000
We estimate two internal rates of return for the non-financial corporate sector: (i) the return on the initial market values of the securities issued by firms, and (ii) the return on the cost of their investments. The return on cost is the return delivered by firms on investment outlays. The return on value is an estimate of the overall corporate cost of capital, that is, the return on investment required by the capital market. The estimate of the corporate cost of capital for 1950-96 is 10.72 p

Determining the Number of Priced State Variables in the ICAPM
Date Posted: Mar  21, 2000
Suppose the ICAPM governs asset prices, and there are a total of S state variables that might be of hedging concern to investors. Can we determine which state variables are in fact of hedging concern? What does it mean to say that these state variables are priced, that is, that they give rise to special risk premiums in expected returns? The goal of this paper is to formulate this problem clearly and show when it can and cannot be solved. Ignoring estimation problems, it is possible to find the

Taxes, Financing Decisions, and Firm Value
Date Posted: Mar  10, 2000
We use cross-section regressions to study how a firm's value is related to dividends and debt. With a good control for profitability, the regressions can measure how the taxation of dividends and debt affects firm value. Simple tax hypotheses say that value is negatively related to dividends and positively related to debt. We find the opposite. We infer that dividends and debt convey information about profitability (expected net cash flows) missed by a wide range of control variables. This infor

Determining the Number of Priced State Variables in the ICAPM
Date Posted: Aug  12, 1998
Suppose the ICAPM governs asset prices, and there are a total of S state variables that might be of hedging concern to investors. Can we determine which state variables are in fact of hedging concern? What does it mean to say that these state variables are priced, that is, that they give rise to special risk premiums in expected returns? The goal of this paper is to formulate this problem clearly and show when it can and cannot be solved. Ignoring estimation problems, it is possible to find the

Discounting under Uncertainty
Date Posted: Jan  30, 1998
Suppose asset pricing is governed by the CAPM or the ICAPM, and the expected one-period simple returns on the net cash flows (NCFs) of investment projects are constant through time. Then the NCFs are priced by discounting their expected values with their expected one-period simple returns. But when NCFs are priced by discounting their expected values with constant CAPM or ICAPM expected one-period simple returns, distributions of NCFs more than one period ahead are likely to be skewed right. Exp

Multifactor Portfolio Efficiency and Multifactor Asset Pricing
Date Posted: Dec  23, 1997
The concept of multifactor portfolio efficiency plays a role in Merton's intertemporal CAPM (the ICAPM), like that of mean-variance efficiency in the Sharpe-Lintner CAPM. In the CAPM, the relation between the expected return on a security and its risk is just the condition on security weights that holds in any mean-variance-efficient portfolio, applied to the market portfolio M. The risk-return relation of the ICAPM is likewise just the application to M of the condition on security weights that