Another Macro Metaphor
By Arnold Kling
Over three billion years ago, bacteria already had a cycle of boom and bust built into their DNA. The cycle of boom and bust is a search strategy. It’s a cycle that uses us to explore the new, then to focus on the flaws in our latest innovations and to build fail-safe systems to prevent future outbreaks of the problems those innovations produce–whether those new innovations are credit default swaps, bundled mortgage securities, or super-banks that span the globe and make high-risk investments with their depositors’ money. And the cycle of boom and bust is built into our biology.
I was repelled by his use of a biological metaphor to describe macroeconomics. I wanted to denounce the use of metaphor from a methodogical perspective. Then I thought of my own metaphors (Recalculation, flood of refugees). So rather than denounce the use of metaphor in general, I will say that I do not find Bloom’s particular metaphor convincing, based on this article.