Terms Beginning With 'b'

Behavioural Economics

  • January 03, 2020
  • Team Kalkine

Behavioural Economics

According to the school of classical economics, people are intrinsically rational, looking to maximise their utility, and make decisions that are best for oneself. A behaviourist is likely to challenge this school of thought, opining that people often times work irrationally, whether on purpose or not.

How should the best parts of psychology and economics interrelate in an enlightened economist's mind?

One of the greatest minds of the 20th century, Mr Charlie Munger stated that- “I don't think it's going to be that hard to bend economics a little to accommodate what's right in psychology.”

Humans are emotional and easily distracted beings. Consequently, decision making may or may not be made in their self-interest always. Every day, humans make decisions as basic as what amount should one pay for lunch, whether one should pursue a course, invest in gym equipment or how much should be kept aside as monthly savings to making personal finance decisions. There is a dedicated branch of economics that seeks to explain why people decide, what they decide. This branch is called behavioral economics.

Your brain effects your thinking- Making Wrong Investment Decision? Blame Your Amygdala!

Let us deep dive-

What Is Behavioural Economics?

Behavioral economics combines understandings from psychology, judgment, decision making and economics with an intent to produce an accurate understanding of human behaviour. It relates to the economic decision-making processes of individuals and institutions.

The concept explores reasons as to why people sometimes tend to make irrational decisions, why and how their behaviour does not follow predictions of economic models. It should be noted that behavioural economics focuses on the observable behaviour of humans and does not have strong theoretical or normative assumptions about how an economic system/ business sector or stock market works or should work.

Read: Understanding Behavioural Finance & Investment Decisions

Let us further break this down with an example:

Unlike the field of classical economics, in which decision-making is entirely based on logic, behavioural economics gives room to irrational behaviour and further attempts to understand reasons behind the same. Brexit, for instance is a classic example of how behavioural economics can be useful because behavioural economics can help illuminate how the narrow vote to leave the European Union (EU referendum) was influenced majorly by gut choices, as some experts suggest, as opposed to rational decision-making.

The Origin Of Behavioural Economics

A keen observer of human behaviour, American economist Richard H. Thaler is broadly believed to be the founder of behavioural economics. He was awarded the 2017 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his significant contributions to behavioural economics. Thaler’s opinions on the branch is believed to have been inspired by notable works of Israeli psychologist and economist Daniel Kahneman and cognitive and mathematical psychologist Amos Nathan Tversky. Daniel Kahneman also won a Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2002 for his brilliant work on prospect theory, which he developed along with Tversky.

Thaler is best known for incorporating psychological assumptions into analyses of economic decision-making.

One of Thaler’s popular ideas – Nudge: Why Move the Earth When A Nudge Can Do! Simple Solutions to Complicated Problems

What Are Various Themes Of Behavioural Economics?

Three prevalent themes in behavioural economics comprise heuristics, framing and market efficiencies.

Why Is Behavioural Economics Important?

Behavioural economics provides new ways to think about barriers and drivers to a range of behaviours. This makes it significant, as traditional economic theory does not use insights from psychology, sociology and neuroscience to explain people’s decisions. So much so, behavioural economics seems to have the power to change the way economists and policymakers think about real world problems.

Must read: How To Use Psychology To Aptly React To The Coronavirus Pandemic

The field also builds a bridge between economic theory and reality- a bridge based on scientific evidence coming from disciplines in behavioural science. Some experts even regard behavioural economics as a counter-revolution, which takes economics closer to its roots, based on psychological intuition and introspection wherein psychology enacts a scientific discipline that can offer much more than merely intuitions and introspection.

Besides, understanding basic concepts from behavioural economics can be very useful. It can help people be better negotiators. 

How Does Behavioural Economics Influence Market Participants?

Clearly, people don’t behave as rational, as traditional economists have assumed. They are affected by cognitive biases, are extremely influenced by other people and often practice herd mentality, have different perceptions about attitudes and behaviours.

In context to the stock market, erroneous, irrational financial decisions are the result of different unpredictable reactions by market participants subject to losses and high market risks. Therefore, for decision-making, it is essential to consider all the factors in the market-which creates a place for behavioural economics besides accounting fundamentals, macro and micro-economic factors, economic projections, etc.

Consider this- a sudden drop in the value of a few stocks followed by an equally rapid recovery, demonstrates that market participants did not cause such movements by rational choices but rather emotional reactions.

Read: What does Fear Do to your Portfolio? Stocks that Scared Investors in 2019

No wonder Benjamin Graham, the father of value investing, and mentor of Warren Buffett the world’s best investor coined the term ‘Mr. Market.” Clearly, he understood there is more to market than numbers.

Read: Are you a Growth Investor? Then You Must Wear the Hat of a Psychologist!

Why Has Behavioural Economics Concept Risen Over The Years?

Let us take cues from dramatic global events over the years- for instance the Great Financial Crisis of 2008 or the novel coronavirus crisis of 2020 (Global Virus Crisis, as some call it).

Read: Things to Learn from Past Crises: Role of Financial Planners During Times of Crisis

These could not be explained by traditional neoclassic economic models though the impact of these events has been beyond massive. Therefore, other schools of economic thought gained traction and behavioural economics was one such concept.

Businesspersons seemed to make decisions based on their emotional state of mind while investors demonstrated nervousness that caused a massive sell off to an extent that circuit breakers had to be launched while.

Acts of spontaneity, irrationality, impatience, and herd mentality amid incidents of recent years have paved the way for economists to believe that the human mind is a crucial key to understand economic patterns, financial decisions and eventually- market and economic stances.

Do You Know Few Top Behavioural Economists?

Besides the foundation setters Kahneman, Tversky and Thaler, a number of economists, and psychologists have emerged as prominent figures within the field of behavioural economics over the years-

Behavioural economics enhances the explanatory power of economics as it provides it with a firm and more rational psychological basis. It surely is a way to make economics more accurate by incorporating more realistic assumptions about how humans behave. Besides, good understanding of human decision-making, its rational and irrational aspects, offers opportunities of influencing choices that take better account of how people actually respond to the context within which their decisions are made.

There are various to help one not fall prey to behavioural traps, mind you, knowledge alone does not help, but an ability to look at bigger picture and through the eyes of various mental models would help one reduce the errors. Eliminating behavioural errors would not be possible or rather would one be flawless and loose the human touch?

Read: All I want to know is where I am going to die so that I’ll never go there- Inversion a Power Tool

What is an Absolute Advantage? Absolute advantage is one of the key macroeconomic terms, which is based on the principles of Capitalism and is often utilised in international trade-related decisions. Absolute advantage refers to the competence of a company, region or country to produce goods or services in an efficient manner compared to any other economic entity. The efficiency in production can be achieved by: Production of the same quantity of good or services as produced by other entity by utilising fewer amount of resources Production of a higher quantity of good or services as produced by other entity by using the same amount of resources What is the Significance of Absolute Advantage? Different countries or businesses possess a different set of ability owing to their location, soil composition, weather, infrastructure, or human resource skills. When applied in the right direction, various factors may pan out to offer more cost-effectiveness and hence build absolute advantage of the entity in comparison to others.  The absolute advantage remains one of the critical determinants for the choice of the goods or services to be produced. Absolute advantage in a particular area often translates into profitability in the area. The profit margin increases by the achievement of cost efficiency, allowing the entity to ensure higher profitability over the competitors.  For example, let us assume that the US can produce ten high-quality aircrafts utilising a specific amount of resources. China, on the other hand, can build 6 similar quality aircrafts using the same amount of resources. Thus, in the production of an aircraft, the US holds Absolute Advantage Let’s say the US has the ability to manufacture a certain amount of steel using 10 tonnes of iron ore. China, on the other hand, can produce the same quantity of steel using 8 tonnes of iron ore.Here, China here holds Absolute Advantage in the production of steel.  How Countries Build Absolute Advantage? While natural conditions, which include climatic factors, geometry, topography, cannot be altered for achieving absolute advantage, the countries use the underlying factors strategically in their favour. Furthermore, factors of production are focused at by many companies or nations for building absolute advantages.  Some of the strategies for building absolute advantage includes: Development of Technological Competencies- The implementation of innovative or latest technological innovations allows the entities to lower their production cost, facilitating absolute advantage.  Enhancing Skills of Human Resources- The improvement in the cost-efficiency, along with the quality of the products, is targeted through imparting varying skill development programs. Many countries subsidize or aid the apprentice or labour training for enhancing the absolute advantage in trade.  Improving Infrastructure- The infrastructure enhancement in the form of road, telecommunications, ports, etc. can be useful in enhancing the cost-effectiveness across different industries.  What Do We Understand by Comparative Advantage Vs Absolute Advantage? Evaluating the comparative advantage introduces the concept of opportunity cost, which is the deciding factor to determine the production of particular goods or services. Opportunity cost refers to the potential benefits associated with the next best possible alternative which is missed out when one option is chosen over another.  The Absolute advantage simply considers the capability of a business or region to deliver goods or services in the most efficient manner. The Comparative Advantage, however, also takes into account the benefits that are forgone if an entity decides for production of a particular product or services.  Comparative advantage, based on the notion of mutual benefits, is often used in international trade deals. The Comparative advantage has been the major factor driving the outsourcing of services in search of cheap labour.  Understanding through an Example For instance, country A can produce ten televisions with the same amount of resources with which it can make 7 laptops. The opportunity cost per television is 7/10 or 0.7 laptops. Meanwhile, the opportunity cost per laptop is 10/7 or 1.42 television.  It highlights that country A is forsaking the production of 0.7 laptops if it is deciding to manufacture one television. On the other hand, it is missing out the opportunity to manufacture 1.42 televisions for every single laptop manufactured.  Now, say Country B’s opportunity cost for producing a television is 0.5 laptop, and that of producing laptop is 2 televisions. Then, country B will have a comparative advantage in making televisions, and country A will have comparative advantage in producing laptops. It has to be noted that despite country A having absolute advantages in both the products, it would be mutually beneficial for both the countries if country B produces television while country A produces laptops. Do You Know About Absolute Advantage Theory by Adam Smith? The concept of Absolute Advantage was indicated by Adam Smith in his book called ‘Wealth of Nations’ which focusses on International trade theory. Adam Smith, in his book attacked on the previous mercantilism theory, which mainly stressed for economies to maintain trade surplus in order to command power.  The Absolute Advantage theory considered that the countries possess different ability with respect to the production of varying goods or services. It argued that it is not necessary that a state may hold an absolute advantage in the production of all goods, and here the relevance of trade comes into play.  It advocates that countries should produce those goods over which they hold a competitive advantage. It would allow the countries to make the same amount of goods using few resources or in less time. The theory propagates the relevance of trade for economic sustainability.  What Are the Limitations of the Absolute Advantage Theory? The assumptions used in the Absolute Advantage Theory by Adam Smith may limit the application in real bilateral trade. The limitations of the theory by Adam Smith include: Smith assumed that the productive capabilities of a country could not be transferred between the two countries. However, in practical terms, the competitive scenario aids the nations to acquire new capabilities and acquire new resources, especially in the technological and human resource skill aspects.  The two-country trade which was used as a basis for the theory does not consider the trade barriers levied. The present scenario, however, is strikingly dominated by trade wars between economies. Nations impose huge tariffs, import duties and other type of barriers to promote local manufacturers.  Absolute Advantage theory assumes that the trade between the two nations will take place only if each of the two economies holds an absolute advantage in one of the commodities traded. However, in general, countries despite not holding absolute advantage are engrossed in international trade, boosting their economic setup.

What is Data Analytics?  Data Analytics involves a set of quantitative and qualitative approaches and processes that can be used to determine useful information for business decision-making. The process involves various patterns and techniques, including: extracting a raw database, and categorising it to identify and analyse the behaviour, relation and connection of the results.  The ultimate goal is to acquire valuable information in order to make decisions for businesses’ benefit and productivity.  In today's competitive times, most companies chalk out their business plan with the help of data analytics. With organisations becoming customer-service oriented, data analytics has become a critical tool to reach the target audience in an effective manner while understanding their requirements. Once data is collected, it is analysed and stored according to organisations’ requirements.  The data analysis process has multiple layers involved, and its diverse modules are not just used in businesses but also in science and social science fields. Rather than making decisions based on just available information, one can utilise data analytics in examining the data in standard ways and churning out the results from it.  It has been observed that companies generally make decisions based on past references and future outcomes. Data analytics appears advantageous in providing useful information towards this end.  Why do Businesses Need to Use Data Analytics?  Many data analytics’ tools and softwares are readily available these days. These systems use resources, such as machine learning algorithms and automation.   Data scientists and analysts are counted amongst the leading career options as well. These professionals use data analytics techniques while researching and presenting useful information for businesses to increase productivity and gain. The process helps companies understand their target audience and determine effective ways to cater to their needs. Data analytics can further be used to design strategies in marketing campaigns and promotions and also evaluate its results.  Data analytics is primarily used in business-to-consumer (B2C) processes to boost business performance and improve the bottom line. There are data collection firms which gather consumer information and provide it to the businesses so that the companies can effectively influence the market. The collected data is not only used to understand and impact consumer behaviour but also determine market economics and its practical implementation.  The data used in the process can be either be data collected in the past or newly updated data. There are various methods to manage consumer and market information. It may come directly from the customers or potential customers or can be purchased from the data collection vendors. The data primarily includes audience demographics, behavioural patterns and expense threshold.  How Can Data Analytics be Effectively Used in Business Processes? Data analytics is an ever-evolving technique. Earlier, the data was collected manually, but with the rise of internet and technology, data is now collected online with the help of search engines and social media platforms. Subsequently, the information is analysed through available software.  Here is a list of some key steps businesses can follow to leverage the benefits of data analytics: Set up crucial metrics: This step reduces the guesswork and provide data-based insights to the businesses. Before embarking on the data analytics process, it is vital to determine the goal for your business. Analysing customer data helps in understanding conversion rate, consumer spending ability, demographics etc. The results of the analysis can support the businesses while making decisions in launching an advertising or marketing campaign. Similarly, the unwanted data can be erased from the database so that the brands can focus on their right target audience. The relevant metrics will change the course of the company and push it in the right direction. Moreover, once your key metrics are set, even when the market conditions change in the future, you can adjust the metrics according to the requirement and achieve the results. Set a clear module: It is important to examine the data correctly by avoiding common mistakes. An ambiguous path can produce confusing insights while wasting time and energy of businesses.  Therefore, it is recommended to draw a clear goal in order to achieve actionable insights. The data, when collected from different sources, need to be merged accurately in the analytics model. Businesses can modulate their data analytics systems either manually or through automation. There are various data modelling practices available in the market. The best use of these techniques can simplify the process of modelling complex data.  Data visualisation: Once the relevant data is collected, and the modules are set to analysis, visualisation of that data will assist in understanding the information correctly. When the businesses have an acute knowledge of what their target audience wants, they can then focus on strategising advertisement and content, which matches the consumers' interest.  It is the critical step in the data analytics process to distinguish insights from information.  Not everyone is comfortable dealing with numbers. Hence, ensuring that key stakeholders understand essential points and information can be displayed in a visually appealing format seem crucial to capitalise on data effectively. Right tools to implement insights:Having access to data and insights can get overwhelming. However, the information is worthless if the businesses are unable to implement it successfully. While it is important to collect the data and set critical metrics and modules to analyse it, it is also imperative to translate the data into practical actions. The eventual goal is to improve sales or grow profits. It is ultimately in the marketers' hands to transform the gained insights into a successful implementation. The consumers' insights should be incorporated while establishing a marketing plan and at all decision-making steps. 

What is Keynesian economics? Keynesian economics is the economic theory that states demand is the driver of economic growth. This economic theory also states that fiscal aid helps recover an economy from a recession. Certain Keynesian economic principles stand in stark contrast to the Classical theory of economics. The theory was given by John Maynard Keynes in the 1930s and published in Keynes’ “General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money” in 1936. The Keynesian theory stated that government spending was an essential factor in increasing demand and maintaining full employment. What are the theories under Keynesian economics? Aggregate demand is affected by a host of factors: Aggregate demand is affected by various factors public and private factors. Monetary and fiscal policy both affect the level of aggregate demand in the economy. Any decision taken by the monetary authority or the government greatly affects the economy’s level of demand. Say’s Law proposes that supply generates its own demand. However, Keynesian economics suggests that demand is the driver of supply and overall growth in the economy. Sticky Wages: According to the theory of sticky wages, employers would prefer laying off workers over decreasing the existing workers’ wages. This happens because even in the absence of labour unions, workers would still resist wages cuts. Even if the employers were to reduce wages, it would lead to economic depression as demand would fall and people would become more cautious about their spending. Keynes advocated that the labour markers do not function independently from the savings market. Therefore, prices and wages respond slowly to changes in supply and demand. Liquidity Trap: Liquidity trap refers to an economic scenario where there is a contraction in the economy despite very low interest rates. This contrasts with the relationship between interest rates and investment given in Classical economics. How is Keynesian economics different from Classical economics? Classical economics states that the economy self-regulates in case of a disequilibrium. Any deviations from the market equilibrium would be adjusted on its own without any government regulation. However, Keynesian economics propagates that government intervention must maintain equilibrium or come out of an economic downturn. Keynesian economics highlights the importance of monetary and fiscal policy, while Classical economics does not mention any government intervention. Another crucial difference is that Classical economics suggests that governments should always incur less debt, while Keynesian economics advises that governments should practice deficit financing during a recession. Classical economics states that government spending can be harmful as it leads to crowding out of the private investment. However, it has been later established that this happens when the economy is not in a recession. Government borrowing competes with private investment leading to higher interest rates. Thus, Keynesian economics is of the view that deficit spending during a recession does not crowd out private investment. What are the policy measures advocated by Keynesian economics? According to Keynes, adopting a countercyclical approach can help economies stabilise. This means that governments must move in a direction opposite to the business cycles. The theory also states that governments should recover from economic downturns in the short run itself, instead of waiting for the economy to recover over time. Keynes wrote the famous line, “In the long run, we are all dead”. The short run knowledge of the economy would be far better than the long run prediction made by any government. Thus, it makes sense for governments to focus on short run policies and maintain short run equilibrium. Keynes’ multiplier effect states that government spending would increase the GDP by a greater amount than the increase in government spending. This multiplier effect established a reason for governments to go for fiscal support when the economy requires it. What have been the criticisms of Keynesian economics? The initial stages of Keynesian economics propagated that monetary policy was ineffective and did not play any role in boosting economic growth. However, the positive effects of monetary policy are well established and have been integrated into the new Keynesian framework. Another criticism is that the advantage of the fiscal benefits to the GDP cannot be measured. Thus, it becomes difficult to fine-tune the fiscal policy to suit the economic scenario better. Also, the Keynesian belief of increased spending leading to economic growth may lead to the government investing in projects with a vested interest. It could also lead to increased corruption in the economy. The theory of rational expectations suggests that people understand that tax cuts are only temporary. Thus, they prefer to save up the income left behind to pay for future increases in taxes. This is the Ricardian Equivalence theory. Thus, fiscal policy may be rendered ineffective due to this. Supply-side economics has also shown contrast to Keynesian beliefs. During the stagflation in the 1970s, the Phillips curve failed, bringing out the importance of supply-side economics.

K-Percent rule deals in monetary policy economics. It is a monetary policy tool under which money supply in an economy should be increased at a constant percentage rate each year, even in recession, recovery or all kind of business cycles.

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