George A. Akerlof (2015)
If markets provide the good people want, then they can also provide goods that people don’t or shouldn’t want – and get them to buy them through psychological or other pressure points. That’s an unexceptionable thesis, and perhaps it takes the skills of a Nobel-prize-winning economist to really bring it to life. Akerlof and Shiller do a great job of arguing that an economic equilibrium must almost necessarily be paralleled by a “phishing equilibrium” in which all prejudices and weaknesses find service. They’re particularly strong at showing how local ideas of choice don’t always integrate into globally good solutions (or even locally ones, over a longer timescale). It’s an important contribution to education to be able to argue both for markets and against their pathologies, without succumbing to the fundamentalism of either side.
3/5. Finished Monday 3 July, 2017.
(Originally published on Goodreads.)