This is an excerpt from a really interesting article on the economy I found in a very unlikely place. Namely, The Washington Post:
Americans see themselves as go-getters and risk-takers. Our optimism will ultimately rescue us. So it’s said. But the folklore increasingly collides with reality. The 2008-09 financial crisis traumatized millions. It swelled the ranks of risk-avoiders, worrywarts and victims. Of course, this was mainly a reaction to overborrowing, inflated home values and lost jobs. But now the fear factor is feeding on itself — and it’s smothering the recovery.
We are prisoners of our rotten mood. Everywhere, the bias is to spend less and wait to see how things turn out. Just as optimism sustained the boom, pessimism prolongs the bust. This is the reverse of “irrational exuberance,” because as long as most people feel this way, the psychology is self-fulfilling. Unfortunately, that’s how they feel.
Admittedly, I am still in the very early stages of figuring out how the economy works in this country. I find it very obvious, however, that the country is going through a doom-and-gloom period where predictions of imminent disasters are more welcome than good news. Grievances and meticulously inventoried while timid suggestions that things might not be all that horrible are greeted with derision.
“Why are you in such a good mood?” people ask incredulously when they meet a content and smiling person. As if happiness needed justification while misery were completely normal and required no analysis.
I’m not qualified to analyze whether there is a link between this culture of misery and doom-saying and the economy. I can say, however, that the fascination with unhappiness does exist and its influence is only growing.