The 1970s and 1980s were rife with economic catastrophizers (is that a word?). Popular books selling in large numbers included "Small is Beautiful," "Spaceship Earth," (if my memory is anywhere near correct) and many similar titles. The idea was rampant once more that Parson Malthus had been resurrected from the grave and was stalking the earth with his basic thesis that population grew geometrically and resources to feed people grew only arithmetically. Thus, we were doomed. Billions more people would be reduced to starvation and penury. While it is true that countless millions do face daily starvation, the general proposition that all of us would soon be eating our shoe leather has not come to pass. Instead, in countries like the U.S., we have eaten so much pizza, pasta, fast food, and everything else that we have become a nation with a problematic population of fatties. Not everyone in the U.S. has access to this bounteous food supply. Nonetheless, we have not run out of food, in the aggregate. Just as the world of economic soothsayers and philosophizers overlooked the role of technology when Parson Malthus first became famous, so have we underestimated the role of technology in the modern world.
Similarly, disaster books about economics sell well. Books that promise how you can safely survive the next stupendous, inevitable, soon-to-arrive, world of market and economy total collapse, sell extremely well. Books that detail economic progress and continued development and policy-solving analysis get a ho-hum buyers' market.
Why do we like to go around scared all of the time? We're a nation of fraidy cats. We're afraid of Democrats. We're afraid of Republicans. We use fear as a major political tactic because it works, and works with a vengeance. Just think up the worst that might, but may not actually even be likely to happen, and you can stir up votes by the ziillions. We've also become a political environment of unbridled prevarication as the boogey-men and image makers have become skilled in knowing how to frighten the electorate into an Elm Street Halloween Night frenzy of fear. Facts have often taken a back seat. I learned when I studied economic forecasting that what people think is going to happen will typically outweigh what can logically be expected to happen. Even in retrospect, we overlook objective evidence on what has actually happened and paint dark and dreary pictures of failure that wither in the light of facts and rational analysis.
The moral to the story is that if we want to write a book and make money, write about a disaster. Many topics abound. The coming crash, always a winner. The political failure of (fill in the blank). The disastrous impact of (fill in the blank for any proposed or new piece of legislation). By spending so much time criticizing, dissembling, and avoiding the facts, we escape from the hard work and reality of focusing on making the world in which we live a better place.