Dating is a waste of time
Trump narratives No analysis of narrative economics would be complete without a discussion of President Donald Trump, a master at spinning narratives.
Shiller is writing a book on this intersection of viral memes and the economy, a theme he calls “narrative economics.” I recently spoke with him about this theme, and I caught a presentation of his on it one evening earlier this year at a New York University.To the extent that people look at Trump’s personal story as a script for their own lives, they might spend more freely and take on more risk, Shiller says. He seems to believe in less regulation, lower taxes and smaller government to help the private sector. But the executive branch has a lot of power over the federal agencies that command regulation.Here businesses testify to rollbacks, and the removal of the risk of “regulatory ambush.” The upshot: Since Trump was elected, business confidence at smaller companies has risen to levels not seen in over a decade.Which brings us to another troubling economic narrative, the “don’t worry, be happy” market meme. “We’re just not that worried that other investors will pull out,” Shiller says. But the problem, Shiller says, is that right before 10 of the 13 bear markets since 1871 volatility was eerily low — just as it is now.At the time of publication, Michael Brush had no positions in any stocks mentioned in this column.If you find yourself wasting time on Facebook and Twitter, don’t feel guilty.
You may be absorbing a lot more about economic trends, and by extension investment insights, than you think.
Things change in the economy because of narratives.” Read: The next bear market gets closer every time stocks hit a new record That makes a lot of sense, as much as we like to think of ourselves as rational beings.
After all, from the early days of sitting around fires or drawing on walls inside caves, humans have been wired to tune in to storytelling, especially when stories have an emotional angle.
For example, one popular Facebook-worthy meme at the time preached that greedy and evil “profiteers” were jacking up prices after the war to take advantage of everyone else, including poor, returning war heroes. But like a typical Facebook newsfeed meme, it sounded as if it made sense.
The word “profiteer,” a relatively new word at the time, shot up in usage in newspapers. One senator offered a sound bite urging consumers to “boycott the profit hogs.” The bottom line here is that the 1920-21 recession may have been caused, in part, by a consumer boycott against supposed profiteers. One held that prices should naturally fall sharply and return to pre-war levels. So why not believe it, especially since it promise a benefit?
“Economists don’t appreciate the power of narrative,” Shiller says.