Monday, November 21, 2011

Behavioral Economics & Michael Lewis

humans, at the individual level, are behaviorally inconsistent. to a certain extent, such individual inconsistencies are smoothed out when aggregated. traditional economics, whether micro or macro, seeks to explain market dynamics driven by behavior at this aggregated level. for such inconsistencies that aren't explained in classical theory, behavioral economics seeks to explain the discrepancy between actual opportunity cost and its (psychological) perception based on the framing of alternatives.

what makes michael lewis an effective writer is not his subject matter expertise, but rather his framing of the particular stories he chooses to tell. what's fascinating in moneyball, the big short, and liar's poker, namely, is that his exploration of the idea of value seeks to bring light not only to various characters and their inconsistent actions in imperfect markets, but also to the psychological motivations of the players. as such, lewis is a master chronicler of behavioral economics. to paraphrase joan didion, he writes entirely to find out what he is thinking, what he is looking at, what he sees and what it means.

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