Economists have looked at consumer demand both at the macro- or aggregative level and at the level of individual choice (microlevel). At the aggregative level, beginning in the 1930s with the first systems of national accounts, consumption spending, private investment, government outlays, and net exports were dubbed the components of overall demand. Private consumption alone, in recent years, has exceeded two-thirds of all spending in the U.S. economy. John Maynard Keynes, in his book The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936), explained the depth and persistence of unemployment in the Great Depression as a failure of confidence reflected in too little business investment and private consumer spending. He suggested that consumption depends on current income, and made much of what he called the ...

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