I love it when the experts get it wrong. It usually means that some self-evident truth maybe isn't that self-evident and maybe isn't even true any more.
Witness the gob-smacking rise in consumer spending recently. There is no good reason for it - the Economy is going to hell in a handcart, fuel prices are up, credit is crunched. Many reasons for it have been proposed by puzzled, slightly embarrassed economists, but none have been terrible satisfying. I believe the following force is at work :-
Slack-jawed, reptilian levels of stupidity.
I like to watch reality cop shows on TV. With the advent of Freeview digital TV and digital recorders I could (and often do) spend too much of my life watching "Police, Stop","Street Wars" "Car Wars" and (my favourite) "Police Interceptors". The reason I mention this is that on one of these shows a guy was stopped by police for speeding at 100mph + on the motorway. His excuse ?
"I was running out of petrol and wanted to get to the services quickly".
I think this is a good metaphor for the current anomalous spending boom. If you are running out of petrol, a sensible person would slow down to conserve fuel (55 mph is the most fuel efficient speed) and then turn-off anything (like the aircon) that might burn fuel. Then they'd drive more carefully than they ever had before, avoiding wasteful harsh acceleration in case they needed to brake wastefully hard.
That's a sensible person - a lot of people it seems would simply floor the accelerator and trust to luck and an ignorance of basic Physics.
In short, Economics assumes rational behaviour by large groups of people. Anyone who attends football matches knows this is something of a long shot. I think it's time for economists to realise that Consumers do not always react to bad economic news by belt-tightening but sometimes by putting their fingers in their ears and shouting "LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU !" and heading for the shops.