Limited Time Offer: Save 10% on all 2022 Premium Study Packages with promo code: BLOG10

Weak, Semi-strong, and Strong Forms Market Efficiency

Weak, Semi-strong, and Strong Forms Market Efficiency

Eugene Fama developed a framework of market efficiency that laid out three forms of efficiency: weak, semi-strong, and strong. Each form is defined with respect to the available information that is reflected in prices. Investors trading on available information that is not priced into the market would earn abnormal returns, defined as excess risk-adjusted returns.

Weak Form

In the weak-form efficient market hypothesis, all historical prices of securities have already been reflected in the market prices of securities. In other words, technicians – those trading on analysis of historical trading information – should earn no abnormal returns. Research has shown that this is likely the case in developed markets, but less developed markets may still offer the opportunity to profit from technical analysis.

Semi-strong Form

In a semi-strong-form efficient market, prices reflect all publicly known and available information, including all historical price information. Under this assumption, analyzing any public financial disclosures made by a company to determine a stock’s intrinsic value would be futile since every detail would be taken into account in the stock’s market price. Similarly, an investor could not earn consistent abnormal returns by acting on surprise announcements since the market would quickly react to the new information.

Strong Form

In a strong-form efficient market, security prices fully reflect both public and private information. Therefore, insiders could not generate abnormal returns by trading on private information because it would already figure into market prices. However, researchers find that markets are generally not strong-form efficient as abnormal profits can be earned when nonpublic information is used.

Summary

In the following graph, we can clearly see that the weak form of market efficiency reflects only past market data. In contrast, the strong form reflects all past data, public market information, and insider information.

Market Prices Reflect

$$
\begin{array}{cccc}
\textbf{Forms of market efficiency} & \textbf{Past market data} & \textbf{Public information} & \textbf{Private information} \\
\hline
\text{Weak form} & \checkmark & & \\
\text{Semi-strong form} & \checkmark & \checkmark & \\
\text{Strong form} & \checkmark & \checkmark & \checkmark \\
\end{array}
$$

Question

If a skilled fundamental financial analyst and an insider trader all earn the same long-run risk-adjusted returns, what form of market efficiency is likely to apply?

  1. Weak form.
  2. Strong form.
  3. Semi-strong form.

Solution

The correct answer is B.

Since the insider trader can’t even earn higher risk-adjusted returns than the skilled fundamental financial analyst, the market must be strong-form efficient.

Shop CFA® Exam Prep

Offered by AnalystPrep

Featured Shop FRM® Exam Prep Learn with Us

    Subscribe to our newsletter and keep up with the latest and greatest tips for success
    Shop Actuarial Exams Prep Shop GMAT® Exam Prep


    Sergio Torrico
    Sergio Torrico
    2021-07-23
    Excelente para el FRM 2 Escribo esta revisión en español para los hispanohablantes, soy de Bolivia, y utilicé AnalystPrep para dudas y consultas sobre mi preparación para el FRM nivel 2 (lo tomé una sola vez y aprobé muy bien), siempre tuve un soporte claro, directo y rápido, el material sale rápido cuando hay cambios en el temario de GARP, y los ejercicios y exámenes son muy útiles para practicar.
    diana
    diana
    2021-07-17
    So helpful. I have been using the videos to prepare for the CFA Level II exam. The videos signpost the reading contents, explain the concepts and provide additional context for specific concepts. The fun light-hearted analogies are also a welcome break to some very dry content. I usually watch the videos before going into more in-depth reading and they are a good way to avoid being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of content when you look at the readings.
    Kriti Dhawan
    Kriti Dhawan
    2021-07-16
    A great curriculum provider. James sir explains the concept so well that rather than memorising it, you tend to intuitively understand and absorb them. Thank you ! Grateful I saw this at the right time for my CFA prep.
    nikhil kumar
    nikhil kumar
    2021-06-28
    Very well explained and gives a great insight about topics in a very short time. Glad to have found Professor Forjan's lectures.
    Marwan
    Marwan
    2021-06-22
    Great support throughout the course by the team, did not feel neglected
    Benjamin anonymous
    Benjamin anonymous
    2021-05-10
    I loved using AnalystPrep for FRM. QBank is huge, videos are great. Would recommend to a friend
    Daniel Glyn
    Daniel Glyn
    2021-03-24
    I have finished my FRM1 thanks to AnalystPrep. And now using AnalystPrep for my FRM2 preparation. Professor Forjan is brilliant. He gives such good explanations and analogies. And more than anything makes learning fun. A big thank you to Analystprep and Professor Forjan. 5 stars all the way!
    michael walshe
    michael walshe
    2021-03-18
    Professor James' videos are excellent for understanding the underlying theories behind financial engineering / financial analysis. The AnalystPrep videos were better than any of the others that I searched through on YouTube for providing a clear explanation of some concepts, such as Portfolio theory, CAPM, and Arbitrage Pricing theory. Watching these cleared up many of the unclarities I had in my head. Highly recommended.