The Economist explains economics: How supply can create its own demand

Posted: September 20, 2017 in economy
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This week “The Economist explains” is given over to economics. Today’s is the third in a series of six explainers on seminal ideas.IN THE depths of the Great Depression, more than a quarter of America’s workers could not find employment. There was not enough demand for the goods and services they could supply. Today America’s workforce can produce more than 17 times as much, but unemployment is under 5%. Somehow demand, so inadequate in the 1930s, is sufficient to match a massively increased supply of goods and services eight decades later. This happy outcome would have surprised some economists of the 1930s, who worried about a “secular” (ie, persistent) stagnation of demand. But it would have been no surprise at all to an older generation of economists, led by Jean-Baptiste Say. His best-known work, “A Treatise on Political Economy”, ran to six editions between 1803 and 1841. It contained much of what became known as Say’s law, the notion that supply creates its own demand.Say and his intellectual allies pointed out that people would not go to all the trouble of producing a good or service, unless they intended to obtain something of equal value in return. So each addition to supply is accompanied by an intended addition to demand. Moreover, the act of production creates an …

via Economic Crisis


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