Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Shiller on Animal Spirits

Yale's Bob Shiller argues that confidence is the key to getting the economy back on track.

I think a lot of economists would agree with that. The question is what it would take to make people more confident. Bob thinks that confidence would rise if the government borrowed more and spent more. Other economists think that confidence would rise if the government committed itself to, say, lower taxes on capital income. The sad truth is that we economists don't know very much about what drives the animal spirits of economic participants. Until we figure it out, it is best to be suspicious of any policy whose benefits are supposed to work through the amorphous channel of "confidence."