Malinvestment is an investment in wrong lines of production, which inevitably leads to wasted capital and economic losses, subsequently requiring the reallocation of resources to more productive uses. "Wrong" in this sense means "incorrect" or "mistaken" from the point of view of the real long-term needs and demands of the economy, if those needs and demands were expressed with the correct price signals in the free market. Austrians believe systemic malinvestments occur because of unnecessary and counterproductive intervention in the free market, distorting price signals and misleading investors and entrepreneurs. For Austrians, prices are an essential information channel through which market participants communicate their demands and cause resources to be allocated to satisfy these demands appropriately. If the government or banks distort, confuse or mislead investors and market participants by not permitting the price mechanism to work, malinvestment will be the inevitable result.
Malinvestment results from the inability of investors to foresee correctly, at the time of investment, either the future pattern of consumer demand, or the future availability of more efficient means for satisfying consumer demand. Malinvestment is always the result of the inability of human beings to foresee future conditions correctly. However, such errors are most frequently compounded by inflation misleading market participants. (more...)