Bubble Bobble

I was initially intrigued and rather happy that Terry Jones of Monty Python had made a film about the boom and bust cycle entitled Boom Bust Boom. While I agree that pluralism in discussion of economics is important and that economists may become too focused on generating elegant economic models that they fail to incorporate the entire picture of the economic world, Boom Bust Boom fails to live up to these very valid principles.

Terry Jones completely ignores Austrian Economics to create a neat and tidy narrative that free market economics are inherently flawed and deny the reality of the boom and bust cycle. There is no mention of Austrian Economists who warned about the crash of 1929. There is no mention of Ron Paul who warned about the crash of 2008. There is no mention of F.A. Hayek who had down extensive work on the boom and bust cycle and received a Nobel prize in economics in part for that work.

Instead of including Austrian Economists, Terry Jones decided to include research on monkeys. However, the findings of this experiment actually demonstrate the opportunity cost axiom of Austrian Economics. The conclusion drawn by the researcher was that like humans, monkeys are more motivated by potential loss than potential gain. We are more concerned with what we will miss out on with our choices. If we do not apply the opportunity cost axiom to this research, it really does not make sense with bubbles. If we are more concerned with loss and did not consider the missed gain as a loss, we would avoid the mad stampede to play the hot potato game entirely.

Little discussion is focused on how deceptive the banking system can be. They did not even consult Michael Moore, who focuses on deceptive practices in his film Capitalism: A Love Story. Instead of considering that irrational decisions can stem from a system that is flawed and deceptive, we are lead to believe that human nature itself is irrational and generating a better system around that irrationality is the solution.

I am glad that Terry Jones advocates pluralism and explains that economic models can be detached from reality. The problem is his film does not epitomize the pluralism that he is promoting and fails to tell the Austrian School’s side of the story.  While the ideas proposed by the Austrian School do need to be challenged to encourage intellectual discourse, Terry Jones decides to ignore them instead. Including this third side would run counter to the neat and tidy anti-free market narrative developed in Boom Bust Boom. As the film itself argues, we should avoid the pitfalls of tidy narratives and welcome all ideas into the discussion.

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