1. A curve that shows the quantity of investment demanded at each interest rate, with all other determinants of investment unchanged. Chapter 14 Investment and Economic Activity 14.2 Determinants of Investment 583
Figure 14.5 The Investment Demand Curve The investment demand curve shows the volume of investment spending per year at each interest rate, assuming all other determinants of investment are unchanged. The curve shows that as the interest rate falls, the level of investment per year rises. A reduction in the interest rate from 8% to 6%, for example, would increase investment from $950 billion to $1,000 billion per year, all other determinants of investment unchanged. Chapter 14 Investment and Economic Activity 14.2 Determinants of Investment 584
Heads Up! To make sense of the relationship between interest rates and investment, you must remember that investment is an addition to capital, and that capital is something that has been produced in order to produce other goods and services. A bond is not capital. The purchase of a bond is not an investment. We can thus think of purchasing bonds as a financial investment—that is, as an alternative to investment. The more attractive bonds are (i.e., the higher their interest rate), the less attractive investment becomes. If we forget that investment is an addition to the capital stock and that the purchase of a bond is not investment, we can fall into the following kind of error: “Higher interest rates mean a greater return on bonds, so more people will purchase them. Higher interest rates will therefore lead to greater investment.” That is a mistake, of course, because the purchase of a bond is not an investment. Higher interest rates increase the opportunity cost of using funds for investment. They reduce investment. Other Determinants of Investment Demand Perhaps the most important characteristic of the investment demand curve is not its negative slope, but rather the fact that it shifts often. Although investment certainly responds to changes in interest rates, changes in other factors appear to play a more important role in driving investment choices. This section examines eight additional determinants of investment demand: expectations, the level of economic activity, the stock of capital, capacity utilization, the cost of capital goods, other factor costs, technological change, and public policy. A change in any of these can shift the investment demand curve. Expectations A change in the capital stock changes future production capacity. Therefore, plans to change the capital stock depend crucially on expectations. A firm considers likely future sales; a student weighs prospects in different occupations and their required educational and training levels. As expectations change in a way that increases the expected return from investment, the investment demand curve shifts to the right.
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