2015 Best 40 Under 40 Professors: Paul Tetlock, Columbia Business School

Paul Tetlock

Professor of Finance

Columbia Business School


Paul Tetlock_Columbia-2

Paul Tetlock, a financial economist, studies how information is incorporated into asset prices, and how investors react to information. Tetlock’s research has opened up a new field in finance of “textual analysis,” which extracts quantitative signals from textual, qualitative information. In research that is the first of its kind, Tetlock shows that measures of media sentiment constructed from news stories predict stock returns and that linguistic media conveys information above and beyond standard, numerical reports. Today, all major financial information providers, such as Dow Jones, Thomson Reuters, and Bloomberg, have developed products that quantify the linguistic tone of their newswires, using methods pioneered by Tetlock. Since 2009, Thomson Reuters has held an annual “News Analysis Research Roundtable” conference for academics and practitioners in this area. Tetlock was the keynote speaker at the first conference and has been invited back to speak each year.

Age: 37

At current institution since: 2008

Education: PhD, Economics, Harvard University, 2004

Courses currently teaching: Capital Markets & Investments

Professor you most admire: Professor Jeremy Stein, Harvard Economics. Jeremy was one of my advisors at Harvard. His teaching inspired me to study finance and his service to our country, while at the Treasury and Fed, reminds us that finance can be used to promote the greater good.

“I knew I wanted to be a b-school professor when” I realized that stock market prices are a window into investors’ minds.

“If I weren’t a b-school professor” I’d be a theoretical chemist.

Most memorable moment in the classroom or as a professor: My students’ applause at the end of the first course I taught at Columbia

What professional achievement are you most proud of? In 2007, my first study on investor sentiment won the Smith-Breeden Prize given to the best asset pricing article in the Journal of Finance.

What do you enjoy most about teaching? I love watching students’ expressions when they have an “a-ha” moment as concepts coalesce in their minds.

What do you enjoy least? Giving exams and grading

Fun fact about yourself: Many confuse me with another P. Tetlock, my Dad — a psychology professor at Penn/Wharton.

Favorite book: Irrational Exuberance by Robert Shiller

Favorite movie: Memento

Favorite type of music: Alternative, old and new school

Favorite television show: Silicon Valley, an HBO series

Favorite vacation spot: California coastline

What are your hobbies? Playing basketball and soccer with my two boys; and running around Central Park

Twitter handle: @whatsTwitter

“If I had my way, the business school of the future would” Seamlessly integrate big data analytics in every classroom.

Students say…

What struck me about Professor Tetlock was his level of engagement inside and outside of the classroom. He truly cares about the learning of each of his students. His intelligence and passion are a given but perhaps not uncommon across the spectrum of a graduate level teaching body. It is quite a rare individual, however, who seeks to distill his passion and knowledge to each of his students (no matter how obtuse and or unwilling they might be!). It is quite simply something that cannot be faked. I saw it in his face every session and in particular on the final class when he tearfully thanked us for working hard and being his students. We should have been thanking him!

– Brian Farrell, MBA class of ‘15

Professor Tetlock’s intense passion for Capital Markets is only surpassed by his love for teaching. I didn’t come from a financial field and approached capital markets with great trepidation. What kept me in the course was Professor Tetlock’s excitement for material which is absolutely infectious. He makes what is historically a daunting and painful class fun and even entertaining. What’s most important, though, is that he also demonstrates great care for his students. Show him a spark of desire to understand the material and he will return the enthusiasm tenfold not stopping just when you have a grasp of the concepts, but only when you can nearly teach it yourself with confidence. I speak from experience because I go up to him nearly every day before class starts with questions and he is always eager, ready, and willing to help. I have sat through several of his lectures in the same day in order to hear material a second time and he maintains the same high energy in the last class of the day that he had in the morning class. He is without a doubt the best professor I have had at Columbia and I would gladly take any course he teachers because I know it will be advantageous time spent and I will walk out having grown tremendously.

– Daniel Maher, MBA class of ‘16

Professor Tetlock has a really clear vision of how to teach Capital Markets in a way that builds up gradually. He explains things methodically and clearly, and is equally happy to take all range of questions – the detailed “explain this again” questions to the “big picture” questions. His excitement for the subject keeps the class’s attention – he really makes you believe that he has a passion for zero coupon bonds.

– Lindsay Slote Delevingne, MBA class of ‘16

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