“We are living in an age unlike any other we have experienced in the United States, and we can’t feel secure about the long term outcome”.
That’s how Robert J. Shiller, Sterling Professor of economics at Yale and a Nobel laureate in economics, assesses the dire consequences of the “alternative truths” that have inundated America and many parts of the world. In his New York Times “Economic View” column, “How Lying and Mistrust Could Hurt the American Economy” , he unpacks his view that the effects on business — and the society – may well be negative and long term:
“There’s substantial evidence that if an atmosphere filled with lies or presumed lies spreads throughout a society, the effect might reduce economic growth rates. Years of incremental damage would result in a substantially lower level of economic well being than would otherwise existed.
“The central reason is basic: An atmosphere generated by a steady flow and variety of lies is like a dark cloud over the facts. Businesses can’t plan effectively when they don’t know who can be trusted.
“A critical question for the United States is the extent to which lying and mistrust have already permeated the entire culture.”
Professor Shiller’s analysis comes at a time when mistrust appears to be taking root in many parts of society.
The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer: “Traditional power elite figures, such as CEOs and heads of state, have been discredited. The growth of social media platforms fully shifted people’s trust from a top-down orientation to a horizontal one in favor of peers or experts. Now we are seeing a further reordering of trust to more local sources, with ‘My Employer’ emerging as the most trusted entity, because the relationships that are closest to us feel more comfortable.” [Emphasis added]
The bottom line: Sooner or later, lies can be very costly.