"If I may be allowed to appropriate the term speculation for the activity of forecasting the psychology of the market, and the term enterprise for the activity of forecasting the prospective yield of assets over their whole life, it is by no means always the case that speculation predominates over enterprise. As the organisation of investment markets improves, the risk of the predominance of speculation does, however, increase. In one of the greatest investment markets in the world, namely, New York, the influence of speculation (in the above sense) is enormous. Even outside the field of finance, Americans are apt to be unduly interested in discovering what average opinion believes average opinion to be; and this national weakness finds its nemesis in the stock market. (...) This is only another way of saying that, when he purchases an investment, the American is attaching his hopes, not so much to its prospective yield, as to a favourable change in the conventional basis of valuation, i.e. that he is, in the above sense, a speculator.
These tendencies are a scarcely avoidable outcome of our having successfully organised “liquid” investment markets. It is usually agreed that casinos should, in the public interest, be inaccessible and expensive. And perhaps the same is true of Stock Exchanges. (...) The introduction of a substantial Government transfer tax on all transactions might prove the most serviceable reform available, with a view to mitigating the predominance of speculation over enterprise."
The spectacle of modern investment markets has sometimes moved me towards the conclusion that to make the purchase of an investment permanent and indissoluble, like marriage, except by reason of death or other grave cause, might be a useful remedy for our contemporary evils. For this would force the investor to direct his mind to the long-term prospects and to those only. But a little consideration of this expedient brings us up against a dilemma, and shows us how the liquidity of investment markets often facilitates, though it sometimes impedes, the course of new investment. For the fact that each individual investor flatters himself that his commitment is “liquid” (though this cannot be true for all investors collectively) calms his nerves and makes him much more willing to run a risk. If individual purchases of investments were rendered illiquid, this might seriously impede new investment, so long as alternative ways in which to hold his savings are available to the individual. This is the dilemma. So long as it is open to the individual to employ his wealth in hoarding or lending money, the alternative of purchasing actual capital assets cannot be rendered sufficiently attractive (especially to the man who does not manage the capital assets and knows very little about them), except by organising markets wherein these assets can be easily realised for money."
PD: No es ninguna novedad... el capítulo 12 de la Teoría General. Mi primer profesor de macroeconomía, José Fanelli, me dijo una madrugada (¡daba clases a las 7!) con cara de aforismo en latín: "el economista que no lee la Teoría General es un economista berreta". Ya la había leído sin entender nada pero volví a hacerlo. Mi segundo profesor de macroeconomía, Daniel Heymann, citó el capítulo 12 de la TG como la verdad revelada. Y lo volví a leer. Mi tercer profesor de macroeconomía, Roberto Frenkel, dirigió mi atención al beauty contest de Keynes... y volví sobre el capítulo 12. Y no, ellos no son responsables del resultado. Y si, hay cierta contradicción entre el Keynes que quiere gravar y limitar el alcance de los mercados financieros por lo que el exceso de liquidez conlleva, y el que entiende que algo de eso hay que dejar para que la gente invierta. Comparto plenamente esa contradicción.