Thursday, February 2, 2017

Notes on Investment vs Consumption Outcomes

When is it profitable to forgo consumption? On the other hand, when is it profitable to include consumption as desirable (productive) outcome, since it is actually part of an ongoing investment process? Consumption as an active component of investment could be particularly helpful, when investment does not include gains in scale for measured output. Specifically, investment in human capital, because time based product can't replicate a specific time unit.  Nevertheless, the fact that consumption outcomes are an important factor for investment inputs, is not well understood. As a result, both production and consumption outcomes are uncertain, in part because of the terms by which current investment definitions take place.

Is the world still progressing in a reliable manner? I still believe it could, given the chance to do so. But after reading an article from Adam Smith Institute, "The World is Getting Better", I knew I needed to try harder, to explain how (present) economic stagnation stems from a marketplace which lacks investment strategies to accommodate today's abundant resource potential. New forms of organizational capacity are needed - capacity which would not be dependent on gains in scale in the traditional sense of defined marketplace output. Even so, gains in scale would eventually accrue in a broader qualitative context, via the increased output and availability of productive agglomeration. In the meantime, human capital - in its most interactive form of time based product - has become increasingly difficult to access.

Granted, we can still take comfort from the fact our world continues to benefit, from the resource capacity unleashed by centuries of economies of scale production, in tradable sectors. The above linked ASI post noted that a ten year old girl 200 years ago, could not have expected to live longer than 30 years. From the closing paragraph:
The progress was achieved by capitalism, not socialism. It was done by people prepared to forgo present consumption and to invest instead in the technologies that increased productivity...It has uplifted the lives of billions, and is still doing so.
What about today? How do we think about delayed consumption, given the fact many forms of investment don't necessarily translate into a greater quantity of tradable goods? Is is possible to emphasize quality as means to move forward, where point of origin quantity (for final time product) is defined by time scarcity?

Indeed, the same method of intensive investment utilized for tradable sector activity, was adopted for the divisions of labor which involve high skill and knowledge use in secondary market activity. But where the intensive investment of capital for tradable goods meant more marketplace output, intensive investment for human capital didn't provide the same benefit for time based product. Instead, this organizational approach translated into sticky wages, rigid marketplace outcomes, and growing divisions of knowledge use between differing income levels. Basically, these forms of human capital investment didn't necessarily translate into greater output, because much of the final product was time linked.

In these instances, time value equates to a fixed quantity general equilibrium outcome, one which is increasingly hidden in governmental definition of services capacity. Consequently, society has had to take part in the burden of shared human capital investment (think healthcare investment costs), to access the output that remains possible on high cost investment terms. These built in investment costs presently hold back the potential for stronger, more dynamic consumption outcomes.

Costs for today's knowledge access, take place on asymmetric terms. While asymmetric compensation will remain an important institutional strategy, this organizational structure should not be expected to bear the entire burden of knowledge use and preservation in the future. It is possible - and desirable - to augment time based product through symmetrically coordinated time value. By doing so, investment and consumption can be combined in what might be thought of as a pay it forward process. Each unit of learning via compensated and matched time, would translate into individuals providing the same for those who follow similar educational trajectories. A "pay it forward" system of education and workplace participation, could create linked investment which eases today's societal burden, in terms of consumption outcomes for human capital.

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