Definition of Idle Resources in Economics

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Idle resources include unemployed people who may be holding out for better salary offers.
Idle resources include unemployed people who may be holding out for better salary offers. (Image: g-stockstudio/iStock/Getty Images)

In economics, the term "idle resources" refers to money, capital or labor that is being wasted. For example, if someone is unemployed, that person is an idle resource whose talent is being wasted. The term idle resources was coined by English economist John Maynard Keynes in his paper "The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money" in February 1939. Keynes believed that to aid economic recovery, idle resources needed to become active.

W.H. Hutt

W.H. Hutt published a rebuttal to the idea that idle resources need to get moving to boost economic recovery. His paper, titled "W.H. Hutt's Theory of Idle Resources," was also published in 1939. Hutt argued that an inactive workers or capital may be held for strategic reasons, such as long-term planning and goals, or risk aversion can play a role. For example, an unemployed worker may prefer to stay unemployed over taking a job that pays less than his previous one.

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