Will bad things get better?

Jane Galt, who is (was?) down, later argued:

So probabilistically, the chances that something good will happen to me right now are, I assume, about the same as they always were.

Holding quality of type constant (an important qualification, as some people are simply prone to bad events, and receiving another bad event signals as such), I more readily expect reversion to the mean.  Good economies grow rapidly after wartime, often because they find it easier to reassemble preexisting pieces than to press forward from full employment.  Much of the human capital is still there and rebuilding can occur quickly once in motion.  The personal analogy is that once you start recovering from (some) catastrophes, the process is speedy.  You already know where you need to go, and you might sample more randomness to court additional good events.

There is also a "naive" evolutionary argument for bad things getting better.

When things go badly, your body borrows resources from the future.  It pumps adrenalin, eats stores of fat, in some views it mobilizes the (only temporarily available) placebo effect, etc., all of which restore better states of affairs and make up lost ground.  More psychologically, a setback may cause a person to try harder.  If a computer crashes and wipes out a page I wrote, I can write it again at an especially high speed and with the energy of anger and adrenalin.

Of course those short-run compensations can herald a problem for the longer-run future, a’la Long and Plosser.  You are digging into your capital stock.  At some margin pumping more adrenalin brings a long-run health cost.  The computer crash means that I write lots today but tomorrow I feel a bit burnt out, and so on.

So if there is anything to worry about, it is the day after tomorrow.  The immediate future appears quite bright.


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