Customer Reviews for

Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism

Average Rating 3.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

A fresh perspective

Akerlof and Schiller give us a fresh look at Keynesian applications which might help us to find solutions to our current economic problems. The greater understanding they bring to the discussion should help us to approach these solutions with less fear.

posted by GFF on November 16, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Not for beginners

I expected Animal Spirits to be a macroeconomics book for the "popular reader." Although I am popular, and a reader, I didn't fully understand it. However, I got some good information out of it anyway-info that I'm sure will build a knowledge base on something I know li...
I expected Animal Spirits to be a macroeconomics book for the "popular reader." Although I am popular, and a reader, I didn't fully understand it. However, I got some good information out of it anyway-info that I'm sure will build a knowledge base on something I know little about. As I understand it, the premise is that the US/world economy is driven by "animal spirits," a force which leads people not to think rationally about money, but emotionally. Thus, sometimes the general populace will feel happy and safe about the economy and spend a lot, thus boosting the economy. And sometimes they will feel scared and unsafe, so they don't invest or spend, promoting a recession.

If you're looking for a book that explains behavioral economics to people who don't understand, this is not the book for you. Since I didn't understand it, I can't say whether it's any good for people who DO understand what the writers are talking about.

posted by The_hibernators on December 5, 2010

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  • Posted December 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Not for beginners

    I expected Animal Spirits to be a macroeconomics book for the "popular reader." Although I am popular, and a reader, I didn't fully understand it. However, I got some good information out of it anyway-info that I'm sure will build a knowledge base on something I know little about. As I understand it, the premise is that the US/world economy is driven by "animal spirits," a force which leads people not to think rationally about money, but emotionally. Thus, sometimes the general populace will feel happy and safe about the economy and spend a lot, thus boosting the economy. And sometimes they will feel scared and unsafe, so they don't invest or spend, promoting a recession.

    If you're looking for a book that explains behavioral economics to people who don't understand, this is not the book for you. Since I didn't understand it, I can't say whether it's any good for people who DO understand what the writers are talking about.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A fresh perspective

    Akerlof and Schiller give us a fresh look at Keynesian applications which might help us to find solutions to our current economic problems. The greater understanding they bring to the discussion should help us to approach these solutions with less fear.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 1, 2009

    Psychobabble & Collectivism

    The usual collectivist, warmed over Keynesian thinking that has never worked. This is another re-writing of history and a weak attempt to smooth over FDR's turning a weak depression in to a deeper one only to survive because Hitler invaded Poland and all productive economies, but the U.S., were virtually destroyed.

    Throw in the Ivy League Psychobabble and you get an intellectual dishonest attempt to cast dispersions on the rational economic theory of rewarding productivity and individuality. This is the type of thinking that has sent the U.S into becoming a second rate economic power as, unfortunately, their thinking holds credence in a government that has designed a legal system that destroys incentive. Much to the authors chagrin and disappointment there are absolutes whether they wish to acknowledge them or not.

    Although I thank the academics, politicians and bureaucrats for having my children pay for my health care at the same time I have to apologize to my children for allowing what has happened to this country and the debt they have inherited. The authors seem to think this debt is only psychological.

    Does any serious, honest person believe that such a system of rewarding consumptive parasites can produce a productive middle class? The entitlement generation wants to make money, not earn it; have a job, but not work. They confuse Crony Capitalism with Free Enterprise which aids and abets the collectivists.

    Unfortunately the authors get paid to teach this nonsense. Only on campus would they get a steady pay check. They should give the proceeds from this book to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, VA or American Legion to recompense for the damage they are trying to inflict on a country many have fought and sacrificed for.

    2 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Rethinking economics' fundamental principles

    Nobel laureate George A. Akerlof and prescient Yale economics professor Robert J. Shiller explain the role of human psychology in markets. They say conventional economic theory assigns too much weight to the role of reason in economic decision making, and too little to the role of irrational emotional and psychological factors. That insight would have been novel a few years back, but numerous other authors have made the same point, though few with such sterling credentials. Having asserted their beliefs and offered evidence about the power of emotions, or "animal spirits," the authors prescribe curative policies though they don't always illuminate their proposals' full real-world impact. Akerlof and Shiller's distinguished reputations command attention, and getAbstract confirms that their book is worthwhile reading. Yet, those who know the authors' bodies of work may wish for even more insight.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2014

    THE LOST TRIBES SEASON 2 PART 13

    In writing for Tuesday after next week.

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  • Posted August 15, 2012

    This was not what I thought it was.

    Archived it immediately.

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  • Posted February 28, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Book for all Undergraduate Economists and anyone who wants to understand often ignored factors that really impact the economy.

    Well written and intelligent discussion that non-economists and economists alike can understand. Written in terms anyone can understand, yet this book should have been required reading before I received my undergraduate degree in economics.

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  • Posted February 6, 2010

    Disappointingly Thin

    Quick, easy read--making the case that human irrationality and group dynamics drive market valuations, not fundamentals. As the authors make clear, this line of thought has been around a long time. Many examples of animal spirits driving markets are presented.

    So, the book dismantles the idea that markets are efficient and rational. No predictive model is given as a replacement.

    A better read with more interesting historical detail is Niall Furguson's Ascent of Money. One achieves the same result along a much more interesting path.

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  • Posted August 26, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent read

    Human nature often collide with logic and reason. Akerlof and Schiller explore this issue in their excellent book and show that animal spirit can result in unexpected economical downturn and financial hardships. As the authors conclude, the effect of the animal spirit could be offset by tighter regulation and little nudge that can have positive impact on human behavior.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    EXCELLENT READING

    Very informative book. It provides an excellent overview of the current and historical economic stresses for the individual who is not well versed in economics. As a person who has very little education in economics (only class was in high school,40 yrs ago) I was very pleased with the presentation.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Ideas and Feelings Counterbalancing Rationality and Efficiency in Economic Matters

    George Akerlof and Robert Shiller convincingly demonstrate that people's ideas and feelings (their animal spirits) play an important role in understanding significant economic events. Economic decisions are not based solely on rational, efficient behavior.

    Akerlof and Shiller first explore the five different aspects of the animal spirits. The authors call them confidence, fairness, corruption and bad faith, money illusion (failure to add inflationary expectations into wage bargains and price setting), and stories (narratives).

    After exploring these five aspects, Akerlof and Shiller examine how animal spirits have an important impact on a variety of economic factors such as unemployment rate, inflation rate, savings rates, stock prices, real estate prices, and multigenerational poverty among disadvantaged groups. The feedback loops that animal spirits create, help explain among other things why globalization to this day remains excessive and unstable.

    To their credit, Akerlof and Shiller usually write in a style that makes complex concepts accessible to a wide audience. Whoever wants to know more about specific topics that both authors address, can look at the chapter notes and comprehensive references that are reproduced at the end of "Animal Spirits."

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted December 27, 2009

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