keynesian theory of investment
Interest rates and planned capital investment
The Keynesian theory of investment places emphasis on the importance of interest rates in investment decisions. But other factors also enter into the model - not least the expected profitability of an investment project.
Changes in interest rates should have an effect on the level of planned investment undertaken by private sector businesses in the economy.
A fall in interest rates should decrease the cost of investment relative to the potential yield and as result planned capital investment projects on the margin may become worthwhile. A firm will only invest if the discounted yield exceeds the cost of the project.
The inverse relationship between investment and the rate of interest can be shown in a diagram (see below). The relationship between the two variables is represented by the marginal efficiency of capital investment (MEC) curve. A fall in the rate of interest from R1 to R2 causes an expansion of planned investment.
Shifts in the marginal efficiency of capital
Planned investment can change at each rate of interest. For example a rise in the expected rates of return on investment projects would cause an outward shift in the marginal efficiency of capital curve. This is shown by a shift from MEC1 to MEC2 in the diagram below.
Conversely a fall in business confidence (perhaps because of fears of a recession) would cause a fall in expected rates of return on capital investment projects. The MEC curve shifts to the left (MEC3) and causes a fall in planned investment at each rate of interest.
The importance of hurdle rates for investment
British firms are continuing to
demand rates of return on new investments that are far too high, undermining
industry's ability to re-equip and close the productivity gap with competitor
The CBI survey of more than 300
firms showed that they expected to earn an internal rate of return averaging
17 per cent and recover the cost of their investment in two to four years.
But experts said that post-tax real returns of 10 per cent were sufficient
to justify most investments.
Britain's poor investment record has been a concern both for the CBI and government ministers. Gordon Brown believes that low investment is one of the main reasons for sluggish economic performance, and that macroeconomic stability and a tax regime less biased towards dividends will encourage capital spending.
The chart below tracks real fixed investment spending by manufacturing industry since 1990. Investment spending collapsed during the economic recession of the early 1990s. There was a surge in investment during the mid-late 1990s- but capital spending fell sharply once more in 1999 following a drop in business confidence and a slowdown in demand and output. A small rebound in manufacturing investment during 2000 came as welcome relief.
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