Animal Spirits: Highlights Segment Essay

1485 words - 6 pages

Traditional economics are instrumental to our understanding of the world and the economy that runs it. However, as authors George A. Akerlof and Robert Shiller attest in their book Animal Spirits, a major economic influencer is missing if we only look at traditional economics to find the problems the economy faces. That missing element is animal spirits, which obviously inspired their books title. The so-called animal spirits consist of five major drivers; confidence, fairness, corruption, money illusion, and stories. Essentially, the authors are arguing that tradition economics look at people as completely rational beings, which is simply a fairytale. Humans have emotions, and we can be irrationally influenced by these emotions. The authors argue that the irrationalities that humans possess are the cause of many of the problems we face in the world of economics today, including the recent recession of 2008, and in the staggering statistics behind poverty in minorities.
One of the most thought provoking chapters in this book was chapter thirteen, titled “Why Is There Special Poverty among Minorities?” This chapter tackles the issues of why in a world of supposed equality, there still seems to be a troubling level of inequality, specifically with African-Americans. The facts and statistics are shocking and horrific. While only about 10% of whites and Hispanics are unemployed, 25% of African-Americans are without jobs (Shiller 163). “Appallingly, the lifetime chances of a black male youth entering prison exceed 25% (Shiller 158)”. The poverty rate of African-Americans is triple that of whites (Shiller 157). From simply observing those numbers, it is easy to see that something is hindering African-Americans, and animal spirits help to answer the reasoning behind these unfortunate statistics. Stories, fairness and confidence levels seem to be the greatest drivers, in terms of animal spirits, behind these numbers.
African-Americans are certainly in a better place than they were less than one hundred years ago, when black rights were limited and racism loomed large over the United States. Blacks now have all the same privileges whites have, and can strive to become whatever they want to be. Many successful blacks have made their influence know, from President Barak Obama, to basketball legends Michael Jordan and LeBron James, to hip hop artist 2pac. But even these stars seem to usually have the backstory of escaping poverty, drugs, low-end employment, and violence. They are usually told as stories of “rags to riches”. On the contrary, famous white people such as George W. Bush, Peyton Manning and the Beatles. All seem to lack the backstory of escaping poverty or unfavorable situations, being the beneficiary of a famous parent, such as Bush and Manning. It seems justifiable to state that black children have higher odds of coming from poverty and broken homes than white children do, this being no fault of their own. This is where the animal spirit of...

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