Saturday, January 24, 2009

Animal spirits

Michael Boskin wrote that "Investors Want Clarity Before Taking Risks". Tyler Cowen refers to the proposed "stimulus" as a "Hail Mary".

"Animal spirits", Keynes' view of capitalists, reeks of detachment and some condescencion. Trouble is no one really knows how to incite the barnyard or rattle the cage. The past six months of ad hoccery have not helped and I am pessimistic about the next chapter, guessing that whatever comes out of the Washington sausage factory will do more harm than good. Bad times do breed bad policy. And there is now very little sympathy for getting the taxman (and the politician) out of the way.

Richard Little and I recently wrote about "Building Walls Against Bad Infrastructure Policy in New Orleans." We argue for open-endedness as people grope for ways to settle in areas with natural hazard risk. We'd like to enlist rather than panic the "animal spirits".