In his times, Markowitz did not claim his ideas were "modern". Not even the expression "Portfolio Theory" is ever used in his seminal paper and subsequent book, while he speaks instead of "Theory of Rational Behavior".

I am curious about who coined the term Modern Portfolio Theory?

  • $\begingroup$ It seems that originally MPT included both Markowitz's portfolio selection and Sharpe's CAPM. So the term mpt must have started to be used after 1964. I have found one reference to it in 1971 (Fisher and Lorie), but that is probably not the first.reference. I'll keep looking. $\endgroup$ – Alex C Aug 26 '18 at 2:37

See Grubel, Herbert G. “Profits from Forward Exchange Speculation.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics, vol. 79, no. 2, 1965, pp. 248–262.

Modern portfolio theory is mentioned in this text, and it was published in May of 1965.

This also may not be the first reference, however it does beat the current #1 which is Fisher and Lorie of 1971 as added by Alex C.


Markowitz: “On the basis of Markowitz (1952), I am often called the father of modern portfolio theory (MPT), but Roy (1952) can claim an equal share of this honor.”

Source: https://arxiv.org/pdf/0904.0870.pdf

Interesting paper on the evolution of the theoretical and practical risk/return relationship, from Bernoulli to MPT and CAPM, to VaR, to CVaR and coherent risk measures.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Rubinstein reports this in occasion of the 50-years Portfolio Selection retrospective. however that does not give any clue about the origin of the terms. $\endgroup$ – antonio Aug 26 '18 at 14:03

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