© 2016

A Theory of Accumulation and Secular Stagnation: A Malthusian Approach to Understanding a Contemporary Malaise


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-vii
  2. Introduction

    1. Daniel Aronoff
      Pages 1-8
  3. The Malthus-Ricardo Debate

  4. Accumulation and Secular Stagnation in the Contemporary United States

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 66-66
    2. Daniel Aronoff
      Pages 124-127
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 128-136

About this book


Thomas Malthus identified a crucial tension at the heart of a market economy: While an accumulation of wealth is necessary to provide the capital investment needed to generate growth, too much accumulation will cause planned saving to exceed profitable investment, which will result in secular stagnation, a condition of low growth and underemployment of resources. Keynes drew inspiration from Malthus in his attempt to comprehend the causes of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Now, Aronoff demonstrates how a related but slightly different aspect of Malthus' thought can illuminate one of the most pressing issues of our times.

In A Theory of Accumulation and Secular Stagnation, Aronoff explores Malthus' ideas relating to secular stagnation and uses the insight gained to understand the origins of the subpar growth and tepid employment, periodically punctuated by booms, that has plagued the US economy since the turn of the millennium. He explains how the rise of mercantilism among Asian countries – principally China – and increased income concentration generated an upsurge in excess saving. This accumulation created a chronic deficiency in demand while also depressing interest rates, which generated a search for yield that fuelled periodic booms.


financial crisis US financial crisis housing boom US housing boom debt deflation secular stagnation accumulation economic cycles volatility current account deficit capital flow bonanza mercantilism China US trade US China trade income concentration China savings leverage credit boom unemployment Malthus crisis Deflation economics employment growth inequality interest rates John Maynard Keynes Keynes macroeconomics production Stagnation trade

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Landon CompaniesUSA

About the authors

Daniel Aronoff is President of Landon Companies, USA. He has served as Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Grand Valley State University, USA. Throughout several decades of participation in the professional world, Aronoff has been a frequent contributor to many media outlets including the Financial Times.

Bibliographic information

Industry Sectors
Finance, Business & Banking


“In A Theory of Accumulation and Secular Stagnation … Daniel Aronoff intelligently looks back to the works of early 19th-century ‘classical growth’ economist Thomas Malthus. … Aronoff does a laudable job of showing how Malthus’s theories might apply to the current economic environment. … as investors continue to evaluate potential implications for zero and negative interest rates, weak capital spending, and deflationary pressure, they will find it useful to include Malthus’s theory of accumulation as part of their mental models.” (Todd Wenning, CFA Institute,, Vol. 11 (1), 2016)