The Housing Chronicles Blog: Next book review: "Animal Spirits"

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Next book review: "Animal Spirits"

For my next book review for Inman News, I selected the book "Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why it Matters for Global Capitalism" by economists George Akerlof and Robert Shiller.

The reason I chose it was because few markets are more prone to human psychology than residential real estate, so I was hopeful that the book would provide some tools to real estate agents to educate potential buyers when deciding to enter into a deal.

I'm also trying -- so far unsuccessfully -- to grab 15 minutes of Dr. Shiller's time for a brief, 15-minute interview for my HousingChronicles show on BlogTalkRadio (and also to help with my review). Since I've interviewed the authors of nearly every book I've reviewed for Inman News and the L.A. Times -- including other noted economists such as Richard Florida and Mark Zandi, who regularly testifies in front of Congress -- I was thinking Dr. Shiller would be willing to do the same.

However, since the PR rep for his publisher is having zero luck scheduling this interview, if any readers of this blog have any sway with Dr. Shiller, you'd have my gratitude to intervene. While the lack of an interview certainly won't stop me from writing the review, I'd find it much easier to tie it directly to the Inman News audience with a few specific questions. After all, this isn't the type of book to which your average real estate agent would gravitate, so I had to talk my editor into letting me review it in the first place.

According to, here's a description of the book:

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.

Keynesianism, Reaganomics and Thatcherism? I can't wait!

Can't wait for the interview? Buy the book at (now only $9.99), or click on the widget below:

No comments: