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This Is How Savings and Investment Pave the Way for an Advanced Economy | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on August 15, 2021

The state of the subsistence fund determines the quality and the quantity of various tools that can be made. If the fund is only sufficient to support one day of work, then the making of a tool that requires two days of work cannot be undertaken. The size of the fund sets the limit on the projects that can be implemented. It also means that the size of the fund determines the so-called economic growth.

https://mises.org/wire/how-savings-and-investment-pave-way-advanced-economy

Frank Shostak

To maintain his life and well-being, an individual must have at his disposal an adequate amount of consumer goods. These goods, however, are not readily available. Without tools at his disposal and by means of his bare hands, the individual can only obtain from nature very few goods for his survival.

For instance, take an individual John, stranded in a forest. In order to stay alive, he can only pick up some apples from an apple tree. Apples are the only good available to him that can sustain him. Let us say that by working twenty hours a day, he manages to secure twenty apples, which keep him alive. The twenty apples that John has secured from nature is his subsistence fund, which sustains him (see also on this Rothbard)[1].

John realizes that if he had a special stick this would allow him to become more productive. His daily production of apples could be forty apples (i.e., double his current production). The problem, however, is that the stick is not available—it must be made. To make the special stick requires two days of work. If John were to decide to make the stick, he would have a problem. By spending his time on making the stick, he would not be able to pick up the apples that are required to keep him alive.

The only way out of this predicament is for John to put aside an apple a day for the next forty days. By saving an apple out of his daily production and enduring hunger, after forty days he will have an adequate stock of apples that will sustain him while he is busy making the stick. (We make the unrealistic assumption here that apples can be preserved in edible form for forty days). Thus, after forty days, the John’s subsistence fund will be comprised of forty apples, which will see him through while he is making the special stick. We can see here that the saved or unconsumed forty apples enable the making of the stick, which raises the production of apples and lifts John’s living standard.

Note that the making of the stick is a burden—John has to make a sacrifice and save forty apples thereby endangering his health and well-being. However, the stick will allow him to double his production of apples. If he continues to consume twenty apples a day, this will allow John to increase his subsistence fund. With a larger fund, John could consider allocating his time to make some other tools to enhance his life and well-being.

The state of the subsistence fund determines the quality and the quantity of various tools that can be made. If the fund is only sufficient to support one day of work, then the making of a tool that requires two days of work cannot be undertaken. The size of the fund sets the limit on the projects that can be implemented. It also means that the size of the fund determines the so-called economic growth.

According to Richard von Strigl

Let us assume that in some country production must be completely rebuilt. The only factors of production available to the population besides labourers are those factors of production provided by nature. Now, if production is to be carried out by a roundabout method, let us assume of one year’s duration, then it is self-evident that production can only begin if, in addition to these originary factors of production, a subsistence fund is available to the population which will secure their nourishment and any other needs for a period of one year…. The greater this fund, the longer is the roundabout factor of production that can be undertaken, and the greater the output will be. It is clear that under these conditions the “correct” length of the roundabout method of production is determined by the size of the subsistence fund or the period of time for which this fund suffices.[2]

The essence of the subsistence fund with respect to an individual, John, can be widened to include many individuals that trade with each other.

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Contact Frank Shostak

Frank Shostak‘s consulting firm, Applied Austrian School Economics, provides in-depth assessments of financial markets and global economies. Contact: email.

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