Friday, December 7, 2018

Information and Investment #4

Chapter VIII of Information and Investment is The Need for Adaptability. It includes a very extensive discussion of liquidity.

The author assumes an entrepreneur will adopt the investment plan which offers the highest mathematical expectation of income, irrespective of the degree of dispersion which the possible values of income may show. I know from personal experience in risk management this isn’t wholly true, but I don’t regard it as very wrong.

Ideally, an investment plan is designed to offer positive profits under all possible scenarios likely to develop. In practice, however, such perfectly adaptability is out of reach. So long as the investor holds his resources in the form of money, he remains free to choose to engage in a variety of activities, the range of which is limited by technical, legal, and financial restraints. Whenever he decides to commit his resources in a form other than money, the scope of future activities is to some extent curtailed. However, the committing of resources in that way is the only hope the entrepreneur has for a substantial return. The more capital-intensive is the process, the greater is the fixed cost, and the greater will be the per unit cost of output if the total volume of production has to adapted to a lower level of demand.

Adaptability is enhanced by the power to make net expenditures from a source of readily available purchasing power. This has two dimensions – amount and speed. This is the heart of liquidity. Of course, money is the most liquid asset. Further resources are trade credit granted by suppliers and credit from a bank or other lender. Urgent sales of assets typically mean getting less money in return than patiently waiting.

An actual liquidity position at a particular time may be accounted for not in terms of intentions but as the unplanned result of recent transactions – of unexpected variations in costs or receipts. Cash balances in this sense are ex post, not ex ante in terms of a ‘transactions motive.’

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