“Extend And Pretend”

I lost the source of this quote, but thought it captured the sentiment correctly:

The government has been playing “extend-and-pretend” based entirely on the idea that pent up demand in consumers would grow until it busted out and the recovery would be on – fueled by consumers. What has happened is the exact opposite. This is very serious. We are running into 3 years now, and 4 if you look at what commodity speculation did to consumers starting back in early 2007. Remember the prices for wheat and such that were even driving the price of pizza up 30% or more? And then we have such things as “staycations”. And so the concern should be whether or not we have a permanent shift in consumer behaviors. Three or four years is plenty of time to break old habits and establish new ones.

1) People forget. Their forgetting follows a ‘forgetting curve’. Knowledge is perishable. Habits are perishable. Relationships are perishable. Even wants are perishable.

2) People don’t ‘unforget’. They have to learn new techniques, develop new habits, and form new relationships. And it takes time.

3) People school or swarm on opportunities. Demand is created by those people who invent ideas then bait people into swarming on them. Developing swarms, especially large scale swarms takes time. Months, even years, because people have to learn from the person closest to them, how they can participate in the swarm. Then as the swarm grows, they must learn enough to break off from the main body and find and exploit new niche opportunities.

This last swarming behavior is the general problem with the Keynesian approach to aggregate demand. People are infinitely acquisitive as long as their acquisitions increase either their entertainment, security or status. But opportunities are not infinite. And the less knowledge, the fewer resources available for risk, and the fewer relationships they have, the less likely they are to identify and swarm new relationships.

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