Sunday, February 14, 2016

What is the economy?

In the past I defined "prosperity" as the flow of money in exchange for goods and services. This has many abstract and confusing derivatives. For example you can buy something like a gallon of milk and that is part of this "prosperity". But buying a company and managing it and realizing profits from it is 'meta' activity of some kind. Then re-selling shares in a promise to pay off a loan to a bank would qualify as a very meta activity.
I want to say that the more meta the activity, the less it has to do with a real economy so that largely what is going in Wall Street is a meta economy, minimally related to the prosperity of people; which is the primary economy. In so far as Wall Street gambles, so also is it superficial to the real economy.
Money in the hands of the rich, for the most part is taken out of the real economy. They might buy a few luxury goods, especially real estate. Then the rest will be invested in stocks and bonds which, per the above, is not part of the real economy. Money in the hands of the middle class and poor (the general population) is spent and circulates and is directly part of the primary economy. I am afraid that "living in the bubble" in Washington DC means confusing the superficial economy of Wall Street speculation with the primary economy of the general population.
It is worth noting in this context, that production is motivated to reduce costs when it comes out of their profit.
I know the above is nonsense and I have not spent enough time thinking about how to define things. It seems pretty clear that defining the purpose of a company as that of enriching the owners, is a bad policy for the real economy and the general population. Or put differently: that larger values of lambda are bad for society.
My guess is that capitalism should be informed by rules that encourage the gambling economy to generate new production. Something like a high interest rate or tax on stagnant money. But when it comes to real estate, I am in my own bubble and want to justify that by saying that property ownership should not have penalties.

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