Some individuals in an economy are earning more than they currently wish to spend. Others—for example, retirees—spend more than they currently earn. How can you shift your purchasing power from high-earnings periods to low-earnings periods of life? One way is to "store" your wealth in financial assets. In high-earnings periods, you can invest your savings in financial assets such as stocks and bonds. In low-earnings periods, you can sell these assets to provide funds for your consumption needs. By so doing, you can shift your consumption over the course of your lifetime, thereby allocating your consumption to periods that provide the greatest satisfaction. Thus financial markets allow individuals to separate decisions concerning current consumption from constraints that otherwise would be imposed by current earnings.
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