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by Marc Faber, originally posted at The Daily Reckoning,

I would like readers to consider carefully the fundamental difference between a “real economy” and a “financial economy.” In a real economy, the debt and equity markets as a percentage of GDP are small and are principally designed to channel savings into investments.

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In a financial economy or “monetary-driven economy,” the capital market is far larger than GDP and channels savings not only into investments, but also continuously into colossal speculative bubbles. This isn’t to say that bubbles don’t occur in the real economy, but they are infrequent and are usually small compared with the size of the economy. So when these bubbles burst, they tend to inflict only limited damage on the economy.

In a financial economy, however, investment manias and stock market bubbles are so large that when they burst, considerable economic damage follows. I should like to stress that every investment bubble brings with it some major economic benefits, because a bubble leads either to a quantum jump in the rate of progress or to rising production capacities, which, once the bubble bursts, drive down prices and allow more consumers to benefit from the increased supplies.

In the 19th century, for example, the canal and railroad booms led to far lower transportation costs, from which the economy greatly benefited. The 1920s’ and 1990s’ innovation-driven booms led to significant capacity expansions and productivity improvements, which in the latter boom drove down the prices of new products such as PCs, cellular phones, servers and so on, and made them affordable to millions of additional consumers.

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