The World Is So Much More Complicated Than You Think

Russ Roberts on the economy.

Morgan Housel
Morgan Housel
Mar 15, 2013 at 12:51PM

One of the great tragedies of analyzing the economy or the stock market is that it's so easy to oversimplify hugely complex things into simple one-liners. For example:

Stocks are overvalued.

Austrian economists got it all right (or wrong).

Keynesian economics doesn't (or does) work.

The government created the housing bubble.

The stimulus did (or didn't) work.

Wall Street is immoral.

"Buy and hold" is dead.

The Fed's money-printing will cause hyperinflation.

And so on.

For each topic -- and for so many other topics -- both sides of the debate can show their evidence and make their case as persuasive as the other. The truth, which usually comes down to the phrase "We just don't know, and it's really complicated," doesn't sit well with economists who spent a decade in school and have a Ph.D. to justify.

Last month I interviewed Hoover Institution economist Russ Roberts. In his opening remarks, he tells a great story about how complex the economy is and how dangerous it can be to have an unshakable view one way or the other. Have a look: