By James Kwak
From Sebastian Mallaby’s review of Robert Shiller’s new book:
Psychologists have established that the key to happiness lies not in riches but in social esteem; therefore, Shiller says, financiers face powerful emotional incentives to balance profit seeking with a social conscience. “The futility of conquest in business mirrors the futility of conquest in war,” he writes. Just as it is impossible to extract much wealth from conquered countries, so it is impossible to extract much happiness from wealth earned unscrupulously.
Does anyone actually think that Wall Street traders and Greenwich fund managers, in general, temper their profit seeking because they want to be seen as doing good for society?
(Besides, the first clause above is simply wrong as a matter of fact: psychologists have established that happiness is a complicated thing, and “social esteem” is only one part of it. See Haidt, Kahneman, Gilbert, etc.)