Thread: at higher rates than the amount of real money in the economy could sustain indefinite

1. at higher rates than the amount of real money in the economy could sustain indefinite

Dear all,

How should I understand the logic in the underlined sentence?

By the end of the decade, more than 60 percent of appliances and furniture was being bought on installment plans. Consumer debt rose from \$2.6 billion in 1920 to \$7.1 billion in 1929. Installment buying at such high levels kept product demand — and thus production — at higher rates than the amount of real money in the economy could sustain indefinitely. The result was a situation that could — and did — lead to severe deflation.

2. Re: How should I understand the logic in the underlined sentence?

Hello Eartha,

I am not a teacher, but I have volunteered in an ESL/TESOL class as an assistant teacher. I also have written for publications.

If you are wanting to understand the meaning of the sentence better, I'll try to help first by separating the section of the sentence you underlined into useful segments, then by paraphrasing the section, and finally by explaining a couple of keys to understanding the section.

The segments:

1. ". . . at higher rates"
2. "than"
3. "the amount of real money in the economy"
4. "could sustain indefinitely."

A paraphrased sentence:

"The cost of production increased more quickly (1) than (2) the amount of real money in the economy (3) that was available to fund the continuing increased production (4)."

An explanation:

There are two keys to understanding the part of the sentence that you underlined. The first is the comparison word, "than," which tells us that one thing is being compared with another thing. [Example: "The sun has a greater diameter than the moon."] The second key is the conclusion word, "thus," which is part of a phrase that comes just before the underlined portion: "and thus production." [Example: "We studied all night. Thus, we are tired today."] The writing had been discussing demand, but the focus shifted to production.

Dashes can make sentences look more confusing. They often separate a related idea from the main one, but in this case their purpose is to emphasize a shift of focus from consumer demand to production. This was important for the writer to emphasize because production has a cost that can be compared with real money supply.

I hope this helps.

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