Akerlof and Robert J. Shiller. Princeton, 2009. 230p bibl index afp

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Akerlof, George A.  Animal spirits: how human psychology drives the  

economy, and why it matters for global capitalism, by George A. 

Akerlof and Robert J. Shiller.  Princeton, 2009.  230p bibl  index  afp  

ISBN 9780691142333, $24.95 

Behavioral economics--the intersection of psychology and economics, and  

a frontier research field for those two disciplines--introduces human 

frailties and proclivities (such as inconsistency and feelings about 

fairness) to microeconomic decision making.  In Animal Spirits, a term 

borrowed from the writings of John Maynard Keynes, Akerloff (Univ. of  

California, Berkeley) and Shiller (Yale Univ.), well-known and 

respected economists, apply behavioral economics to macroeconomic 

problems such as business cycles, recessions, and instabilities in 

financial markets.  The chapters in part one treat concepts such as 

confidence, fairness, and money illusion; part two presents eight 

questions--and the authors' answers.  Far too often they use straw men 

to create Hatfield-and-McCoy-type duels between classical economics and 

the newer behavioral forays.  But the book is obviously a timely, 

valuable complement to the more traditional approaches to macroeconomic 

thought and teaching.  Forty pages of footnotes and references in a 

volume of only 180 pages of prose will dampen interest among 

intelligent lay readers; however, the book's target audience is 

academics.  Chapter 13 on the special case of African American poverty 

is a superficial and likely erroneous sop to their political leanings  

and should have been omitted.  See related, Behavioral Economics and  

Its Applications (CH, Sep'07, 45-0372).  Summing Up: Recommended.   

General readers, upper-division undergraduates, and above. -- A. R.  

Sanderson, University of Chicago 



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