Monetary and Real Causes of Investment, Booms and Declines (Classic Reprint)

Monetary and Real Causes of Investment, Booms and Declines (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from Monetary and Real Causes of Investment, Booms and Declines

The 1900's have marked two major investment booms in the United States. The first occurred in the 1920's, when according to Gordon (1974), expenditures for producer and consumer durables comprised a larger fraction of GNP than during any period prior to World War I. This boom was followed by the Great Depression of the 1930's, which was particularly, characterized by the collapse of the new capital formation. The second investment surge occurred in the 1950's and early 60's. This boom has been followed in the early 1970's by a period of abnormally lagging investment.

This glance at economic history suggests several important questions. First, what are the forces that periodically produce major investment booms? Second, what are the forces that underlie sharp investment declines? The third question, closely related to the second, is how do the circumstances of an investment boom lead into subsequent decline? Keynes (1937a) specifically addressed this third question in noting that "increased demand for money resulting from an increase in activity has a backwash which tends to raise the rate of interest, and this is, indeed, the significant element in ray theory of why booms carry within than the seeds of their own destruction." The third question links the first two because an adequate theory of investment boons and decline must explain not just the boon phase or the decline but also the transition between the two.

The economics literature embodies two main schools of thought on causes of investment boons and declines.

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