The Neglected Mass Saving. The Economic Consequences of Increasing Intermediation

The current low level of interest rates is mainly due to the fact that the savings plans in Europe and Southeast Asia exceed the investment plans; the expansive monetary policy only strengthened this trend slightly. The savings surpluses are primarily the result of mass saving, which tends to curb consumption and force it into intermediation through the credit apparatus; this inevitably leads to problems of maturity and risk transformation as well as debt. They contribute to the instability of the system. Savings surpluses due to mass saving already occurred in the last quarter of the 19th century, but were eliminated by wars and inflation before they could pose more serious problems. Since 2000 at the latest, however, savings surpluses have been dampening consumption and growth; the economy's willingness to borrow is limited in view of the low growth rates, and national debt tends to be contained. This is unlikely to change much in the foreseeable future. The article shows the problems on the basis of the Austrian development over the last 180 years and discusses possible solutions.