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Economy, Capital, Savings, and Investment

Federal Reserve increases, developed technologies, little results, Federal Reserve System, Savings institutions

In the United States and in other market economies, financial firms and markets channel savings into capital investments. Financial markets, and the economy as a whole, work much better when the value of the dollar is stable, experiencing neither rapid inflation nor deflation. In the United States, the Federal Reserve System functions as the central banking institution. It has the primary responsibility to keep the right amount of money circulating in the economy.

Investments are one of the most important ways that economies are able to grow over time. Investments allow businesses to purchase factories, machines, and other capital goods, which in turn increase the production of goods and services and thus the standard of living of those who live in the economy. That is especially true when capital goods incorporate recently developed technologies that allow new goods and services to be produced, or existing goods and services to be produced more efficiently with fewer resources.

Investing in capital goods has a cost, however. For investment to take place, some resources that could have been used to produce goods and services for consumption today must be used, instead, to make the capital goods. People must save and reduce their current consumption to allow this investment to take place. In the U.S. economy, these are usually not the same people or organizations that use those funds to buy capital goods. Banks and other financial institutions in the economy play a key role by providing incentives for some people to save, and then lend those funds to firms and other people who are investing in capital goods.

Interest rates are the price someone pays to borrow money. Savings institutions pay interest to people who deposit funds with the institution, and borrowers pay interest on their loans. Like any other price in a market economy, supply and demand determine the interest rate. The demand for money depends on how much money people and organizations want to have to meet their everyday expenses, how much they want to save to protect themselves against times when their income may fall or their expenses may rise, and how much they want to borrow to invest. The supply of money is largely controlled by a nation’s central bank—which in the United States is the Federal Reserve System. The Federal Reserve increases or decreases the money supply to try to keep the right amount of money in the economy. Too much money leads to inflation. Too little results in high interest rates that make it more expensive to invest and may lead to a slowdown in the national economy, with rising levels of unemployment.

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