Orangutans Smarter than US Politicians

posted by Nima

December 24, 2008 · Posted in Global Economics 

BBC writes in Orangutans learn to trade favours :

Two orangutans – Bim and Dok – who live in Leipzig Zoo, Germany, were especially good at helping each other.

Initially, they were given several sets of tokens, and learned the value of the different types.

An animal could exchange one type for bananas for itself, another type could be used to gain bananas for a partner, and a third had no value.

Initially, Dok, the female, was especially good at swapping tokens to get bananas for Bim, the male. Sometimes Bim would point at the tokens to encourage her.

But he was less interested in trading tokens that would win bananas for her.

As she became less willing to help him out, Bim responded by trading more and more, until their efforts were more or less equal.

Bim quickly realized that he will not receive favors anymore unless he starts giving back. He was amassing debt while Dok was generating savings. This is a charming simplification of the process I outlined in The US Current Account Deficit. Just as Bim realized that he needs to consume less and start giving back more, US politicians need to realize that the same applies to their countrymen.

It shouldn’t be too much to ask of our politicians: Have the courage of a orangutan and abandon the policy of credit expansion and fiscal irresponsibility!

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