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Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism | [George A. Akerlof, Robert J. Shiller]

Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism

The global financial crisis has made it painfully clear that powerful psychological forces are imperiling the wealth of nations today. From blind faith in ever-rising housing prices to plummeting confidence in capital markets, "animal spirits" are driving financial events worldwide.
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Publisher's Summary

The global financial crisis has made it painfully clear that powerful psychological forces are imperiling the wealth of nations today. From blind faith in ever-rising housing prices to plummeting confidence in capital markets, "animal spirits" are driving financial events worldwide. In this book, acclaimed economists George Akerlof and Robert Shiller challenge the economic wisdom that got us into this mess, and put forward a bold new vision that will transform economics and restore prosperity.

Akerlof and Shiller reassert the necessity of an active government role in economic policymaking by recovering the idea of animal spirits, a term John Maynard Keynes used to describe the gloom and despondence that led to the Great Depression and the changing psychology that accompanied recovery. Like Keynes, Akerlof and Shiller know that managing these animal spirits requires the steady hand of government--simply allowing markets to work won't do it. In rebuilding the case for a more robust, behaviorally informed Keynesianism, they detail the most pervasive effects of animal spirits in contemporary economic life--such as confidence, fear, bad faith, corruption, a concern for fairness, and the stories we tell ourselves about our economic fortunes--and show how Reaganomics, Thatcherism, and the rational expectations revolution failed to account for them.

Animal Spirits offers a road map for reversing the financial misfortunes besetting us today. Read it and learn how leaders can channel animal spirits--the powerful forces of human psychology that are afoot in the world economy today.

©2009 George Akerlof and Robert Shiller; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

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  •  
    Chris new york, NY, United States 03-08-10
    Chris new york, NY, United States 03-08-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Relevant Portrayal of Behavioral Economics"

    If you've ever read a book on Behavioral Economics and wondered why PHd candidates spend so much time formulating theories on the obvious, this book is for you. This book is applied Behavioral Economics as it relates to the crisis of 2007 and it is a mostly brilliant work at that.

    If you are a capitalist, you might want to stop at the end of Chapter 12 as the authors take off their lab coats and get up on their social apologist soap box in an inexplicable departure from an otherwise coherent book.

    One nagging point that the authors might not agree with is what I percieved to be an interchangeable use of "Economies" and "Markets". That strikes me as particularly egregious in a book on behavioral econ.

    Absolutely don't agree w conclusion that Animal Spirits can or should be regulated away. Still, well worth a read.

    17 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Reich Northern, CA 03-08-11
    Chris Reich Northern, CA 03-08-11 Member Since 2005

    Business Physicist and Astronomer

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An Amazing Surprise"

    I really wasn't sure what I was getting into with this book. Some weird philosophy? Spirit world influence? Another conspiracy book?

    None of the above.

    Brilliant insights into the ills of our economy. Ethics? Amen.

    Whatever you think this book is, it's not. Try it. You'll like it.

    Chris Reich

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joshua Kim Etna, NH, United States 06-10-12
    Joshua Kim Etna, NH, United States 06-10-12 Member Since 2005

    mostly nonfiction listener

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Influential"

    Apparently influential in the Obama administration. Good to see the basics of behavioral economics being applied to a macro-economic book. Helped me get a better sense of why I paid too much for my house, why some folks are still poor, why jobs seem harder to come by, and why the folks making economic policy often seem like dumb apes. Well written and informative. Makes a good argument for the benefits and limits of capitalism and the necessity of regulation to protect our investments and jobs.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donald Asheville, NC, United States 02-21-11
    Donald Asheville, NC, United States 02-21-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Five animal spirits and eight questions"

    This is a book on economics. The authors want to introduce the concepts of 1) fairness, 2), confidence 3) corruption, 4) money illusion, and 5) stories as items on a list called “animal spirits”. While these are harder to put to numbers than creating something like a Consumer Price Index, the authors use them to answer eight questions. Some of the eight questions are as follows: 1) Why do economics fall into depression? 2) Why do central banks have power over the economy as fair as they so do? 3) Why are there people who cannot find a job? 4) Why is there a tradeoff between inflation and unemployment in the long run? 5) Why is saving for the future so arbitrary? 6) Why are financial prices and corporate investments so volatile? 7) Why do real estate markets go through cycles? 8) Why does poverty exist for generations about disadvantaged minorities?
    Our world has a number of countries with different types of governments. From an economic viewpoint, the ones on the extreme ends of the scale are Singapore and Germany. European countries such as Germany have more governmental regulations than the US. Countries like Singapore have less. The authors are big fans of Keynes and thus would like to see government become bigger and thus more like a European government. Fortunately, the book does not devote much time to politics. Two books that are heavier in politics but with opposite viewpoints are Jack Welch’s Straight From the Gut and the one written by a leader of the Security Exchange Commission (SEC). The title is Take on the Street.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Darrell Cupertino, CA, United States 01-29-11
    Darrell Cupertino, CA, United States 01-29-11 Member Since 2007
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    "Good Book Poor Narration"

    This book does a good job of explaining how actual humans don't often follow the rational behavior that classical economists theorize.

    Unfortunately, the narration is so bad and annoying (when the narrator breathes in an audible sound is heard every few seconds) that it is almost impossible to listen to.

    Don't buy this audio book. You will be disappointed.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Lorraine, QC, Canada 09-03-11
    Amazon Customer Lorraine, QC, Canada 09-03-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Keynes would be proud"

    This book isn't all that bad. The narration is very good, some of the ideas are convincing. But most of it is just classic keynesianism, which tends to explain everything by explaining nothing. For example, when it comes to confidence, the author explains that the problem of the current crisis can be explained by the loss of confidence and that we must restore confidence to restore the economy. It's a bit like explaining that rain is causing a flood and then explaining how stopping the rain would stop the flood: ain't helping much, we all knew that. The hard question is what caused the rain, what created the loss of confidence?

    Not a bad read/listen, just, a bit superficial in the analysis. But again, that's classic keynesianism right there.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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