The crises that erupted in countries like Ireland and Greece a decade ago would not have been so severe had their debt been linked to their economic performance. And the same is true today: Investors around the world will continue to accept the risk, given the unlimited upside to investing in entire economies.
It is impossible to pin down the full cause of the high price of the US stock market. That alone should remind all investors of the importance of diversification, and that the overall US stock market should not be given too much weight in a portfolio.
Richard Thaler has shown in his research how to focus economic inquiry more decisively on real and important problems. His research program has been both compassionate and grounded, and he has established a research trajectory for young scholars and social engineers that marks the beginning of a real and enduring scientific revolution.
The US stock market today looks a lot like it did at the peak before all 13 previous price collapses. That doesn't mean that a bear market is imminent, but it does amount to a stark warning against complacency.
Inequality is usually measured by comparing incomes across households within a country. But there is also a different kind of inequality, in the affordability of homes across cities, and the impact is no less worrying.
One explanation for today’s stagnation focuses on growing angst about new technologies that could eventually replace many or most of our jobs, fueling massive economic inequality. People may be increasingly reluctant to spend today because they have vague fears about their employability tomorrow.
The public reaction to recent proposals that robots be taxed when they replace human labor has been largely negative. But a moderate tax on robots – even a temporary levy that merely slows the adoption of disruptive technology – seems like a natural and obvious component of any policy to address rising inequality.
Speculative markets have always been vulnerable to illusion, and in the US, two have been sustaining asset-price gains since November's presidential election. But seeing the folly in markets provides no clear advantage in forecasting outcomes, because changes in the force of an illusion are difficult to predict.
US President-elect Donald Trump campaigned in part on a proposal to cut taxes dramatically for those with high incomes, a group whose members often have elite educations as well. So why did his most enthusiastic support tend to come from those with average and stagnating incomes and low levels of education? What gives?