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Uncertainty Is a Jobs Killer: 'Freakonomics' Co-Author

Tuesday, 10 Jul 2012 | 12:26 PM ET


Uncertainty is a killer of everything, including confidence and jobs, Stephen Dubner, "Freakonomics" co-author, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Tuesday.

“Human beings make very, very bad decisions under uncertainty,” Dubner said. “It throws us all into this primitive state where we make panic choices.”

The difference between risk and uncertainty, he noted, is that we can put a number on risk and operate in our best interests.

He also said that campaign spendingis not massively important in election outcomes. “The guy who ends up winning usually raises more money because he's a more attractive candidate,” he said.

According to Dubner, the average congressional candidate could double his spending and gain only about 1 percent more of the vote. Halving spending would also have only a modest impact. “Our thinking about how campaign spending matters is antediluvian at best,” he said. (Related: Richest US Presidential Candidates).

How much impact Washington has on the economy may also be exaggerated, but Dubner conceded it’s a harder argument to make empirically.

The 'Freakonomics of Reality'
Stephen Dubner, "Freakonomics" co-author, discusses the current economic climate, with the "Squawk Box" news crew, and Tom Stemberg, Staples co-founder & former CEO.

“It’s this fallacy that president candidates like to perpetuate that they have a lot of control," Dubner said. “The fact is that Washington doesn't control the economy. The president can do some things fiddling around the margin so it's a bum deal.”

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