Savings, Time Preference, And Spiritual Orientation.

Good economics is the opposite of the nonsense of debt and spending. The very best school of economic thought is Austrian economics which is built upon the foundation laid by Menger and Bohm-Bawerk, Mises, and Rothbard, and which recognizes the subjective nature of human decisions. One aspect of the subjective decision-making that humans make has to do with the future.

Time preference and savings are part of economics and economics is, broadly speaking, the study of human action. One of the laws of human action that is understood apriori is that humans prefer to have now what is desired rather than at some time in the future. This is what the economic term of time preference represents. Of course it is subjective so the degree of preferring now to the future changes for an individual and across individuals for many reasons and over time. In societies where humans are no longer just barely subsistent it manifests itself in the economy as savings which in turn becomes capital and becomes a part of the capital structure. The capital and the capital structure transform the level of productivity in the economy in a manner that meets the hopes for the future that is inherent in the time preference of that society.

As examples, if one society fears war and inflation in the future the time preferences would be very high and under those conditions saving makes little sense. If another society is at peace with other neighboring societies and the value of its money is appreciating because of the effects of increasing productivity then the time preference is relatively low and the tendency to save would be greater. Not only is time preference an indicator of the anxiety or tranquility of a society but it also directly affects the amount of savings which then affects directly the potential for transformation since it affects the capital and the capital structure. In other words, the peaceful  society will be more prosperous and the people in that society will not only have more goods and service available but will also have put aside money as savings which will enable them to be able to purchase and enjoy these new and wondrous things.

Now suppose the peaceful and prosperous society has a significant number of people who become less attached to earthly pleasures because of a changed spiritual orientation. In the present they will not need as much as before and this means that their time preference decreases. This translates into more savings and more capital to enter the capital structure. The capital and the capital structure is what transforms the economy and that transformation always is in the direction of serving the consumer. What goods and services will best serve the increasing number of these spiritually motivated members of society?

None of this can be known ahead of time. What is known is that societies in the future will look different from the one we know and at some point in time those societies will be significantly different from anything we imagined.

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