The disputed goodness of savings
June 1, 2010
And the question is, is this good or bad? A number of economists says that, at these levels, and in the current situation, is bad. On the one hand, because it is a symptom of mistrust, when not of panic, given the seriousness of the economic situation. On the other, because the direct consequence of this increase in the saving is the reduction of consumption, which feeds the crisis. Others, however, argue that both individuals and companies were living with a dangerous debt overhang that is now beginning to be corrected, and this is a good thing. And that, in addition, this higher level of savings can be channelled through the banking system by providing credit to companies. As usual, economists, supposedly experts, are not in agreement nor in this case.
But beyond the technical debate there on this issue a philosophical background which seems most interesting to me. Already in the century XVIII Immanuel Kant, in his 'lessons on ethics ', addressed this issue in a chapter entitled 'concerning savings', whose reading is certainly encouraging. Said that the famous German philosopher "saving is not a virtue, as save not requires skill or talent [...], even the dumbest can amass money" and argued that, at the individual level, there is no reason to try more foolish than manirroto to the prudent savers. While this deprives them of the present life, the other is stripped of the future life (but which removed you the 'bailao'). On the other hand, when it deals with the issue from a social perspective, concluded Kant, that savers are certainly more profitable for the society as a whole and that only they "are compatible with the universal things general enforcement purposes".
Kant was not an economist and businessman. And generations of entrepreneurs who have preceded us hardly would have read Kant. But the consideration of the savings as a positive value, as an element of security which strengthens us to grow in a sustainable manner, attenuating the risks and to build the future, has been, from Kant to our parents, little less than an axiom. An axiom that was smashed in the pre-crisis years of the desmadre. When all over the world, companies and individuals, began to live beyond their means. When the irresponsibility of those calling borrowed what might never return paled before the irresponsibility of those who lent themselves. Until that, as it was expected, ended up breaking what Kant defined as the general order of things.
Today the crisis has once again put in evidence what had always been evident. Families and businesses who acted with prudence, who maintained a reasonable level of savings or that had borrowed in a responsible manner, will come out in his airy most of the crisis, many of them even stronger. Others will be very weak, or not will be. I am glad because private savings is increasing and that fall the indebtedness. Although companies us resintamos, for some time, of a lower consumption. The same is true, goes without saying, for public administrations, but that, dear readers, gives to some articles.