The Economics of Fear

In my lifetime — at least in the part of my lifetime I can remember — there has never been such a big debate about what to do with the economy.

I believe very strongly that economic success is all about positive thought. I said quite some time ago on this very blog that fear drives the US economy like no other issue. When times are good, happiness drives the economy higher and every negative — wars, droughts, terrorist attacks, whatever — makes the economy dive. The inverse, I believe, is also true. In downturns it is the negatives that outweigh the positives.

A second belief is that the practice of economics is too complicated. Economists — and politicians — like to talk about the Fed and interest rates and inflation and deflation and spending money and tax cuts and all the stuff that goes along with it.

These are just levers and descriptors, though. To solve a downturn all we really need to do is to improve positive thinking.

So rather than a discussion of more government spending or tax cuts, we should be talking about American’s greatest fears, short-term and long-term, and our government should enact policies to fix that.

Personally, I am more concerned about US and state current and future debt obligations than anything else. I think we have spent like drunken sailors on shore leave for the past 25 years and it is time to pay the piper. I think it is time for a national discussion about what we should and can expect from our governments.

And for me I know getting our debt under control sure would improve my mood.