Libertarian Jackass

"Life is short, but truth works far and lives long; let us speak truth." -- Schopenhauer

Sunday, September 28, 2003

When In Doubt, Talk About "Behavorial Finance" or, um, "Animal Spirits"

Last week at a lecture presenting "research" (econometrics) that "re-examines" the Asian financial crisis, the econ prof, after failing miserably to explain the financial crisis, stated that more work needs to be done in the area of "behavorial finance." I contend that in academia this is tantamount to saying, "I don't know what the f**k I'm talking about but hopefully one of you other a*sholes will write some hip, trendy, bullsh*t article I can cite in my next pathetic paper." The other day I picked up this article via The Sage Chronicle and the comments related to it on "discredited ideas" sum up the issue perfectly:

"No sooner than seeing the Efficient Market Hypothesis and other pseudo-intellectual business school mumbo-jumbo be totally discredited, here comes a new grand idea. 'Behavioral Finance.' We will hear much about it in time to come. Let us simply remember that man, since the beginning of time has sought to find a formula or method that divines order out of the chaotic conditions that spring out of the random choices of billions of people. There is no order and there is no substitute for thinking."

I can't help but laugh at all this when coming across the following Keynes gem:

"...most, probably, of our decisions to do something positive, the full consequences of which will be drawn out over many days to come, can only be taken as a result of animal spirits--of a spontaneous urge to action rather than inaction, and not as the outcome of a weighted average of quantitative benefits multiplied by quantitative probabilities...if the animal spirits are dimmed and the spontaneous optimism falters... enterprise will fade and die," - J.M Keynes: The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, 1936.

The voices in my head made me do it! (I feel a Nobel prize coming on here . . . )

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