Friday, November 7, 2008

Joy to the world

I am an old realist who sometimes envies the idealism of the young. The joy of Obama supporters is much greater than the sorrow of McCain supporters, which is remarkable because behavioral economics says that the emotional impact of loss is greater than the emotional impact of gain.

If net joy (Obama joy minus McCain sorrow) could be turned into dollar amounts, would it raise GDP for the fourth quarter enough to keep the U.S. out of recession? Citizens of other countries share this joy. Is this joy currently our biggest export? Because we cannot charge for it, can we consider it part of our foreign aid? If we did, would we be the largest donor country in the world in per capita terms? On the other hand, what if there is buyer's remorse and the joy dissipates? Then would we have to deduct from future GDPs? And if the foreigners decide that the Obama presidency is not all they expected, would our foreign aid go negative? Or should we expect the joy to remain because expectations partially determine our perceptions, so that those who are heavily invested in the Obama story will approve actions by him that they would damn if done by Bush? (Isn't the expectations-perception link the reason it took Nixon to go to China?)

I have so many questions, but maybe time will answer them. (However, I am not sure that time answered my ponderings from eight years ago.)

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