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Finance Dictionary and Glossary of Investment Terms
random walk theory
An investment theory which claims that market prices follow a random path up and down, without any influence by past price movements, making it impossible to predict with any accuracy which direction the market will move at any point. In other words, the theory claims that path a stock's price follows is a random walk that cannot be determined from historical price information, especially in the short term. Investors who believe in the random walk theory feel that it is impossible to outperform the market without taking on additional risk, and believe that neither fundamental analysis nor technical analysis have any validity. However, some proponents of this theory do acknowledge that markets move gradually upward in the long run.
The theory that stock price changes have the same distribution and are independent of each other, so the past movement or trend of a stock price or market cannot be used to predict its future movement.