Behavioral economist Richard Thaler talks to bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell on the implications of behavioral economics on how we think about the world, from our personal lives to business to society. They will have you retooling your grocery list and retirement strategies, and lead managers to rethink every aspect of their business.
60:30this is an important point someone whohas always been the the A+ student thisthe court feel are the obvious smartestkid in the room right golden boy issomeone who is who is not powerfullymotivated to disrupt the status quoright right right is rare going I seewhere you’re goinglook no I think it’s an obvious pointthat if I were if I had been really goodat doing economics I wouldn’t have hadto do this you know all rightI mean I sure when Rosen my advisor Iquote him in the in in an article in TheNew York Times he told the reporter whoasked about my career as a grad studentquote we didn’t expect much of him yeahand you it’s always good to have youI think it’s been purestupidity that we haven’t been buildingroads bridges and so forthfor the last seven years when we wecould we can borrow at a negativeinterest rate and use otherwise idleresources I mean it’s just mind bogglingthat we haven’t done that and and youdon’t have to be a Keynesian to thinkthat so whether or not this wouldstimulate the economy let’s just supposewe do just cost-benefit analysis we havebridges that are all going to fall downall around the country we could bebuilding them with construction crewsthat have nothing to do and borrowing atzero interest rate and we’re going tohave to do start doing it as soon as theeconomy picks up when it will cost a lotmore so complete stupidity
The central error in the popular post-crisis consensus was the idea that naive believers in the self-policing efficiency of markets led us over the precipice. Greenspan was painted as the high priestof this laissez-fairy-tale delusion, and people seized on a moment when he appeared to plead guilty: Under the pressure of congressional questioning, he confessed to a “flaw” in his pro-market ideology. What Greenspan meant was that all belief systems — whether pro-government or pro-market — are imperfect. But that subtlety was lost. Quoted and requoted without proportion or context, Greenspan’s purported mea culpa threatened to define his legacy.
.. Bestsellers by two Nobel Prize-winning behaviorists — Daniel Kahneman and Richard Thaler — encouraged people to see the crisis as proof that this new science had been ignored, as did contributions from the sublime storyteller Michael Lewis.
.. Contrary to myth, Greenspan himself never believed that markets were efficient. In his youth, he wrote lucidly about bubbles and crashes and regarded market inefficiencies as so obvious that he sought to exploit them by day trading
.. As Fed chairman years later, Greenspan frequently reminded his colleagues that periods of prosperity could be punctured by “irrational exuberance” in financial markets.
.. political constraints, not intellectual failures, prevented policymakers from curbing the housing mania. Nobody remembers that in 2001 the Greenspan Fed banned the most abusive subprime mortgages, for the good reason that the ban was circumvented. But why was it circumvented? The answer is that the capture of Congress by financial lobbies ensured the balkanization of regulation into an alphabet soup of agencies, many of them underfunded and ineffective.
.. Nonbank mortgage lenders, for example, came under the authority of the Federal Trade Commission, which had no resources to conduct preemptive supervision. Small wonder that the sharp practices in the industry became egregious, or that nonbanks continue to dominate today’s mortgage business.
.. The Greenspan Fed also tried to force more capital into the banks it supervised, but it soon realized that this would drive risk-taking into various “shadow banks” that lay outside its authority
.. Greenspan also pushed for tougher regulation of the Federal National Mortgage Association and Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (a.k.a. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), the government-backed mortgage giants, presciently observing that they posed “a systemic risk sometime in the future.” Fannie’s lobbyists hit back with a TV ad warning Congress not to back the Greenspan plan. That buried it.
.. The important lesson of the crisis is not that markets are fallible, which every thoughtful person knew already. It is that essential regulations — the sort that the supposedly anti-regulation Greenspan actually favored — are stymied by fractured government machinery and rapacious lobbies.
.. Even today, the financial system has multiple overseers answerable to multiple congressional committees, because all this multiplying produces extra opportunities for lawmakers to extract campaign contributions.
.. Vast government subsidies still encourage Americans to take big mortgages; Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac still operate, despite endless talk of breaking them up. And although post-2008 regulations have ensured that banks are better capitalized, the lobbyists are pushing back. Merely a decade after the Lehman bankruptcy brought the world economy to its knees, the Trump administration is listening to them.