09 January 2009

George Bailey's view

Last week's issue of The New Yorker (5Jan09) took me aback. The lead article in "The Talk of the Town" focused on the emotional nature of economics. And, to demonstrate his point the author, Adam Gopnik, drew on one of my favorite Christmas movies: "It's a Wonderful Life."

Mr Gopnik likened George Bailey to the peddlers of subprime loans and suggests that Mr Potter, miserable old coot, was the better of the two characters when it came to money management. Oh, the sacrilige. The author pulled it out in the end and did make his point, differientating between what he calls the "rational-economic" and the "social-emotional." He even admitted before he finished that it would likely have been Mr Potter, ultimately, who carved up mortgages and sold them off around the world.

"An economy is not a rational model; it's an emotional muddle." Mr Gopnik concludes. Sometime how people are feeling matters and it's that very energy and passion which Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey communicates so well. Panic engenders panic and its panic the author wants us all to resist. It is, indeed, a wonderful life no matter what the financial sitation.

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