The Limit to a Nation’s Cantal
The extent of a country’s capital, or wealth used productively at any period, is determined by certain more or less ascertainable conditions. The employment of capital involves the sacrifice of a present, for the sake of a future good, on the part of those who provide it, and voluntarily to submit to a sacrifice requires an incentive. The margin between the advances of capitalists, and the gross produce, constituting net profit, supplies the motive for devoting wealth to productive employment. The inference is that a country’s riches may be destroyed by a conflagration, or an invasion, without permanently affecting it any more than the storm, stripping off some leaves or acorns, affects the oak. The capital under employment at any particular period is, from this circumstance, probably never exactly at the maximum, but either somewhat above or somewhat below it, according to the progress the cycle has made at any particular period.