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from the present. Nor is this essential fact altered by the possibility of a number of different kinds of investments today. It is true that a month’s labor in the present may be spent in planting slow-growing or fast-growing trees; but so may a month’s labor invested next year. It is from the preference for the early over the late fruition of any productive process that the so-called « technical superiority of present over future goods » derives all its force and not from the superior productiveness of roundabout processes of production. The latter has no power whatever to create interest. It is impossible in this brief article to enter into a detailed account of Böhm-Bawerk’s theory and its merits and defects. For amplification of the brief statement here presented the reader is referred to my « Kate of Interest ».
III. Human Impatience the true Basis of Interest.
We are now ready to state briefly our own theory of interest. This is a modification of Böhm-Bawerk’s agio theory. Tartly to distinguish it from Böhm-Bawerk’s, and partly to find a better term than « agio », it is here proposed to call the present theory the « Impatience theory ». It is odd that no one has happened heretofore to hit on this term, which seems to be the only one expressing accurately and in a single word, the real basis of interest. The term delay (« mora ») was used by some medioeval writers, who first sought to excuse interest taking on the ground that repayment of a loan was « delayed » and that the delay should be penalized; but the justification of interest consists not exactly in the delay in paying, but in the fact that the borrower does not like the delay. The term « abstinence » has had much currency; but it is not abstinence but the inconvenience of abstinence which is the real factor. By Professor Marshall the term « waiting » has been suggested; but it is not the waiting which is significant but the reluctance to wait. Böhm-Bawerk’s term « agio » has attracted much attention; but it has no evident meaning until it is explained by a longer phrase— i. e. « a premium in the esteem of man for present over future goods ». The idea which it is sought to express by all these proposed terms — delay, abstinence, waiting, agio, as well