Animal Spirits

A term used to describe stock market optimism.

Reporting on a strong start to 2010 for stock markets and Asian and European manufacturers, Ian McGugan asked in The Financial Post:

Could it be that optimism is coming back into fashion? John Maynard Keynes, the British economist, coined the term “animal spirits” to describe the fragile sense of optimism that is needed to fuel economic growth.
This confidence vanished after the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., but following the stock market’s remarkable resurgence in recent months and an encouraging round of recent economic reports, animal spirits are back in fashion.
Keynes discussed “animal spirits” in his 1936 book, “The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money.” Since then the term has been regularly quoted to characterize what The Economist called “one of the essential ingredients of economic prosperity: confidence.”
According to Keynes, animal spirits are a particular sort of confidence, “naive optimism.” He meant this in the sense that, for entrepreneurs in particular, “the thought of ultimate loss which often overtakes pioneers, as experience undoubtedly tells us and them, is put aside as a healthy man puts aside the expectation of death.” Where theseanimal spirits come from is something of a mystery. Certainly, attempts by politicians and others to talk up confidence by making optimistic noises about economic prospects have rarely done much good.


Dictionary of unconsidered lexicographical trifles. 2014.

Synonyms:

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  • Animal spirits — Animal An i*mal, a. [Cf. F. animal.] 1. Of or relating to animals; as, animal functions. [1913 Webster] 2. Pertaining to the merely sentient part of a creature, as distinguished from the intellectual, rational, or spiritual part; as, the animal… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • animal spirits — n. healthy, lively vigor …   English World dictionary

  • Animal Spirits — Als Animal Spirits (dt. ‚animalische Instinkte‘[1], manchmal auch „etwas flach“ mit ‚Lebensgeister‘ wiedergegeben‘[2]) werden irrationale Elemente im Wirtschaftsgeschehen, wie unreflektierte Instinkte, Emotionen und Herdenverhalten bezeichnet,… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Animal Spirits — A term used by John Maynard Keynes used in one of his economics books. In his 1936 publication, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, the term animal spirits is used to describe human emotion that drives consumer confidence.… …   Investment dictionary

  • Animal spirits — Spirit Spir it, n. [OF. espirit, esperit, F. esprit, L. spiritus, from spirare to breathe, to blow. Cf. {Conspire}, {Expire}, {Esprit}, {Sprite}.] 1. Air set in motion by breathing; breath; hence, sometimes, life itself. [Obs.] All of spirit… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • animal spirits — noun plural Etymology: Latin animalis animate more at animal 1. sometiems animal spirit obsolete : the nervous energy that is the source of physical sensation and movement 2. [influenced in meanin …   Useful english dictionary

  • animal spirits — exuberance arising from an excess of energy; vivacity and good humor: The children romped on the lawn, full of animal spirits. [1535 45] * * * …   Universalium

  • animal spirits — noun After Keynes (citation 1936, above), the emotional and intuitive factors that drive business decisions whether to make investment gambles. This is likewise evident in such as walk in the night in their sleep, and do strange feats: these… …   Wiktionary

  • animal spirits — animal beings; wildlife; animals as creatures that deserve to live and not be abused …   English contemporary dictionary

  • animal spirits — Synonyms and related words: animate existence, animation, being alive, birth, capersomeness, coltishness, elan, esprit, existence, exuberance, friskiness, frolicsomeness, gaiety, gamesomeness, gayness, gusto, having life, heartiness, immortality …   Moby Thesaurus

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