Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Market Decline Will Lead To Pension Collapse, USD Devaluation, And NWO - Raymond_Matison
2.Uber’s Nightmare Has Just Started - Stephen_McBride
3.Stock Market Crash Black Swan Event Set Up Sept 12th? - Brad_Gudgeon
4.GDow Stock Market Trend Forecast Update - Nadeem_Walayat
5.Gold Significant Correction Has Started - Clive_Maund
6.British Pound GBP vs Brexit Chaos Timeline - Nadeem_Walayat
7.Cameco Crash, Uranium Sector Won’t Catch a break - Richard_Mills
8.Recession 2020 Forecast : The New Risks & New Profits Of A Grand Experiment - Dan_Amerman
9.Gold When Global Insanity Prevails - Michael Ballanger
10.UK General Election Forecast 2019 - Betting Market Odds - Nadeem_Walayat
Last 7 days
Stock Market Dow Elliott Wave Analysis Forecast - 13th Oct 19
The Most Successful IPOs Have This One Thing in Common - 13th Oct 19
Precious Metals & Stock Market VIX Are Set To Launch Dramatically Higher - 13th Oct 19
Discovery Sport EGR Valve Gasket Problems - Land Rover Dealer Fix - 13th Oct 19
Stock Market US Presidential Cycle - Video - 12th Oct 19
Social Security Is Screwing Millennials - 12th Oct 19
Gold Gifts Traders With Another Rotation Below $1500 - 12th Oct 19
US Dollar Index Trend Analysis - 11th Oct 19
China Golden Week Sales Exceed Expectations - 11th Oct 19
Stock Market Short-term Consolidation Does Not change Secular Bullish Trend - 11th Oct 19
The Allure of Upswings in Silver Mining Stocks - 11th Oct 19
US Housing Market 2018-2019 and 2006-2007: Similarities & Differences - 11th Oct 19
Now Is the Time to Load Up on 5G Stocks - 11th Oct 19
Why the Law Can’t Protect Your Money - 11th Oct 19
Will Miami be the First U.S. Real Estate Bubble to Burst? - 11th Oct 19
How Online Casinos Maximise Profits - 11th Oct 19
3 Tips for Picking Junior Gold Stocks - 10th Oct 19
How Does Inflation Affect Exchange Rates? - 10th Oct 19
This Is the Best Time to Load Up on These 3 Value Stocks - 10th Oct 19
What Makes this Gold Market Rally Different From All Others - 10th Oct 19
Stock Market US Presidential Cycle - 9th Oct 19
The IPO Market Is Nowhere Near a Bubble - 9th Oct 19
US Stock Markets Trade Sideways – Waiting on News/Guidance  - 9th Oct 19
Amazon Selling Fake Hard Drives - 4tb WD Blue - How to Check Your Drive is Genuine  - 9th Oct 19
Whatever Happened to Philippines Debt Slavery?  - 9th Oct 19
Gold in the Negative Real Interest Rates Environment - 9th Oct 19
The Later United States Empire - 9th Oct 19
Gold It’s All About Real Interest Rates Not the US Dollar - 8th Oct 19
A Trump Impeachment Would Cause The Stock Market To Rally - 8th Oct 19
The Benefits of Applying for Online Loans - 8th Oct 19
Is There Life Left In Cannabis - 8th Oct 19
Yield Curve Inversion Current State - 7th Oct 19
Silver Is Cheap – And Getting Cheaper - 7th Oct 19
Stock Market Back to Neutral - 7th Oct 19
Free Market Capitalism: Laughably Predictable - 7th Oct 19
Four Fundamental Reasons to Buy Gold and Silver - 7th Oct 19
Gold and Silver Taking a Breather - 7th Oct 19
Check Engine Warning Light ECU Dealer Diagnostic Cost - Land Rover Discovery Sport - 6th Oct 19
Natural Gas Reloads For Another Price Rally - 6th Oct 19
Understanding and Purchasing different types of Plastic Building Materials Online - 6th Oct 19
Craig Hemke: Ignore the Elliott Wave “Buffoons” Calling for a Gold Crash - 6th Oct 19
Stock Market 6 Month Trend Forecast Conclusion - Video - 6th Oct 19
The True Causes Behind the Yield Curve Inversion and Gold - 5th Oct 19
Strategies on how to be a Successful CFD Trader - 5th Oct 19
Gold Stocks Correction Underway - 5th Oct 19
Climate Change When the Levee Breaks - 5th Oct 19
Federal Reserve Bank ‘Guarantees’ Dow Will Not Sink Below 26k - 5th Oct 19
The Russell and Transportation Tell A Completely Different Stock Market Story - 4th Oct 19
Confidence Drives the Economy and Trump’s Trade War Is Killing It - 4th Oct 19
ADL Predicts Crude Oil Prices Will Fall Below $40 - 4th Oct 19
Investing Money? Why You Need a Reputable Accountant - 4th Oct 19
Stumbling Manufacturing and Rising Gold – Now or Later? - 4th Oct 19
Silver Eyes Fourth Quarter Rebound - 4th Oct 19
Gold Price Forecast to Exceed $10,000/Ounce - 3rd Oct 19

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Stock Market Trend Forecast Oct - Dec 2019 by Nadeem Walayat

Keynsian Animal Spirits

Economics / Economic Theory Sep 24, 2012 - 05:03 AM GMT

By: Alasdair_Macleod

Economics

The BBC is running a three-part series on notable economists, starting with Keynes. There were a number of errors made, but I shall ignore those and address two Keynesian fallacies. The first was that Keynes correctly anticipated the economic and political consequences of the Versailles Treaty, which inflicted punitive reparations on Germany: this was true. It was bizarrely extrapolated to the current situation, concluding that Germany must reduce its prosperity and economic power to a level closer to that of the other Eurozone countries in the interests of economic balance.


The second point was that Keynes described unexpected changes in economic behaviour as "animal spirits". Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England no less, said on the programme that it was the best explanation for the banking crisis five years ago. To describe such an event in those terms is not an explanation and exposes a yawning gap in King’s knowledge.

"Animal spirits" amount to the failure of Keynesians to explain a basic phenomenon of human action. The origin of the phrase, if the programme is to be believed, comes from Keynes’s unsuccessful attempts to predict stock market prices. We have all been there: we invent a fool-proof trading system only to see it fail in practice. "Animal spirits" is a substitute for understanding that it is impossible to predict tomorrow’s prices with certainty, whether they be of financial assets or of goods.

Prices change for one of two reasons. Either there is a change in the value of the goods being exchanged for money, or there is a change in the value of the money used. The banking crisis to which King referred was about a sudden change in the value of money.

Before the crisis, banks were willing to lend, and consumers were willing to borrow to buy. The prerequisite was continually expanding credit, a process that was bound to end sometime. And when it did, the consequence of a change in the availability of money was an increase in its value to the consumer, and the result was a fall in prices. "Animal spirits" is an attempt to summarise this effect without understanding it.

Left alone, prices would have adjusted to new lower levels. Government action was focused on stopping this happening, by introducing schemes such as car scrappage, or cash-for-clunkers, to encourage demand. At the same time central banks flooded the banking system with money to stop its value rising. Prices were therefore prevented from adjusting to the bursting of the credit bubble. This Keynesian solution has another fallacy at its heart, clearly stated by the experts, including King, on the programme. They believe that production has to be subsidised in order to keep unemployment down. If people remain employed, they will spend, and that gets the economy back on track. This analysis is incorrect: as we have seen, the problem is prices, not production.

The order of events does not start with production, it starts with consumption. If prices are too high, because of a change in the value of money, then they must fall if consumers are to be tempted. The fall in prices exposes over-valued productive capacity. It is an adjustment that must occur, and no amount of subsidy and money-printing to address "animal spirits" can change that. And the sooner it happens, the sooner an economy gets back on track.

The next programme is on Hayek, which should be less contentious, except to those academics who rely on an unquestioning belief in place of reasoned analysis.

Alasdair Macleod runs FinanceAndEconomics.org, a website dedicated to sound money and demystifying finance and economics. Alasdair has a background as a stockbroker, banker and economist. He is also a contributor to GoldMoney - The best way to buy gold online.

© 2012 Copyright Alasdair Macleod - All Rights Reserved
Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules