AEA Awards Ceremony and Presidential Address

Session/Event

Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017 4:40 PM – 5:45 PM

Hyatt Regency Chicago, Grand Ballroom F
Hosted By: American Economic Association
  • Chair: Alvin E. Roth, Stanford University
Awards Ceremony and Presidential Address
Presiding: Alvin E. Roth, Stanford University
Speaker: Robert Shiller, Yale University, "Narrative Economics"
Speaker(s)
Robert J. Shiller ,
Yale University
Topic: Narrative Economics

Abstract

This address considers the epidemiology of narratives relevant to economic fluctuations.  The human brain has always been highly tuned towards narratives, whether factual or not, to justify ongoing actions, even such basic actions as spending and investing. Stories motivate and connect activities to deeply felt values and needs. Narratives “go viral” and spread far, even worldwide, with economic impact. The 1920-21 Depression, the Great Depression of the 1930s, the so-called “Great Recession” of 2007-9 and the contentious political-economic situation of today, are considered in view of the popular narratives of their respective times. Though these narratives are deeply human phenomena that are difficult to study in a scientific manner, quantitative analysis may help us gain a better understanding of these epidemics in the future.