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Waves, Ripples & Multipliers

Throw a rock in the water and what do you get? Waves. A constant, outward stream of ripples stemming from the initial point of where the rock hit the water. The rock hitting the water is the initial activity and the ripples are the effects of the rock hitting the water's surface.

The same is true in economics. One activity triggers a wave of other activities. "Multiplier" is the name we give to those consequential activities. A multiplier is any activity that spurs other spin-off activities, or ripple effects. We use multipliers (in the form of a ratio) to determine the economic impact of a certain activity, such as a plant choosing to locate in your community, a big music festival coming to town, or even the money you spend from your paycheck.

Economics is all about linkages. Business sectors and industries that have large multipliers are those that are greatly linked to other forms of spending and investment, whether directly or indirectly. For example, the manufacturing industry's multiplier effect is stronger than other sectors (see the graph below) because manufacturing has interaction with a larger variety of other industries (i.e., supply chain, trucking companies, raw materials suppliers).

The higher the multiplier, the greater the wave of other investment and spending likely to ensue. This is essentially how we measure the effectiveness of various forms of economic activity.

Thanks for Reading,

Matthew






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