Economist Robert J. Shiller to Speak at Brookhaven Lab on How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, March 2

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Robert J. Shiller (photo: Michael Marsland, Yale University)

UPTON, NY — Robert J. Shiller, an economics professor and fellow at Yale’s International School of Finance, will give a BSA Distinguished Lecture, titled “Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism,” at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory on Tuesday, March 2, at 4 p.m. in Berkner Hall. BSA Distinguished Lectures are sponsored by Brookhaven Science Associates, the company that manages Brookhaven Lab, to bring topics of general interest before the Laboratory community and the public. The lecture is free and open to the public. Visitors to the Laboratory age 16 and over must bring a photo ID.

In his lecture, Shiller will discuss the premise of his 2009 book, coauthored with the Nobel Prize-winning economist George A. Akerlof. Winner of the getAbstract International Book Award and the 2009 TIAA-CREF Paul A. Samuelson Award for Outstanding Scholarly Writing on Lifelong Financial Security, the book, which has the same title as Shiller’s lecture, discusses how “animal spirits,” or human emotions such as confidence, fear, and a concern for fairness, drive financial events, including today’s global financial crisis.

John Maynard Keynes coined the phrase “animal spirits” to describe the changing psychology that led to the Great Depression and the recovery from it. Like Keynes, Shiller and Akerlof believe that government intervention is necessary to overcome the adverse effects on the economy brought about by unruly and irrational human emotions. In his talk, Shiller will explain how “animal spirits” lead to adverse economic effects, and he will outline his insights on how the global economy can recover from its recent setbacks.

Shiller earned a B.A. from the University of Michigan in 1967 and a Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1972. A member of Yale University’s faculty since 1982, Shiller is currently the Arthur M. Okun Professor of Economics at the university and a fellow at the International School of Finance at Yale School of Management. He previously held faculty positions at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and the University of Minnesota. A best-selling author, Shiller has written on numerous economic topics, including financial markets, behavioral economics, macroeconomics, real estate, statistical methods, and public attitudes regarding markets.

Shiller has been a research associate in the National Bureau of Economic Research since 1980. He also has been vice president of the American Economic Association in 2005 and president of the Eastern Economic Association, 2006-07. Shiller’s repeat-sales home price indices, developed with Karl E. Case, are published as the Standard & Poor’s/Case Shiller Home Price Indices. Currently, Shiller writes two columns: “Finance in the 21st Century,” for Project Syndicate, which publishes around the world, and “Economic View,” for The New York Times.

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