What is an example of investment goods

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Capital goods are man-made, durable items that companies use to produce goods and services. They include tools, machines and devices. Capital goods are also referred to as durable goods, real capital, and economic capital. Some experts simply refer to them as "capital". This last term is confusing because it can also mean financial capital. In accounting, capital goods are treated as fixed assets. They are also known as "facility, property, and equipment."

Capital goods are one of the four production factors. The other three are:

  1. Natural resources such as land.
  2. Work like workers.
  3. Entrepreneurship, which is the motivation to start new businesses. (Source: Factors of Production, St. Louis Federal Reserve.)

How Much Does the United States Produce?

In the United States, the monthly Durable Goods Order report measures capital goods production. Capital goods shipments, new orders and stocks are displayed. Check it out every month because it is one of the most revealing leading economic indicators.

The Census Bureau provides the durable goods report. It surveys companies that ship more than $ 500 million a year. These companies can be departments of large, diversified companies. This includes large, homogeneous companies as well as individual manufacturers in 89 industry categories. (Source: Durable Goods Order Reports, US Census.)

How capital goods are driving US economic success

The United States has been a technological innovator in creating capital goods, from cotton gin to drones.

This is important because the production of capital goods creates more jobs in manufacturing. These are among the best paying positions, averaging $ 70,000 per year. America's success as a capital goods supplier has created a comparative advantage for the country. That helped it remain the largest economy in the world until 2015, when China reached that spot.

For more information, visit Silicon Valley: America's Innovative Advantage.

Here are eight examples of how U.S. innovations in capital goods created these benefits.

  1. In 1789, Samuel Slater improved textile production. Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1793, making the United States a leader in clothing manufacturing.
  2. The invention of Morse code and the telegraph in 1849 and the Graham Bell telephone in 1877 made communications faster.
  3. Thomas Edison invented a safe incandescent lamp in 1880. This allowed people to work longer and make life in the city more attractive.
  4. Steam ships led to steam locomotives. They allowed private railroad networks to facilitate coast-to-coast trade and western development.
  5. In 1902, air conditioning enabled migration to formerly hot areas and the ability to work effectively during the summer.
  6. In 1903 the Wright brothers invented the airplane and led to faster travel.
  7. In 1908, Ford's assembly line allowed affordable cars to be mass produced. That increased the demand for extended travel and led to the Interstate Highway Act of 1956. It improves shipping and creates a higher standard of living locally.
  8. In 1926, Robert Goddard invented the liquid propulsion rocket. That gave the United States a defense advantage.

Tier 1 capital goods

Tier 1 capital goods are another leading indicator of economic growth. That's because they don't include defense equipment and aircraft, which are usually big jobs that don't seem consistent. Core orders for capital goods tell you how much companies use every day.

The census department measures both orders and shipments. The latter usually show in the gross domestic product estimate for this quarter. Orders appear later when the goods are manufactured and shipped. If core goods orders go up, GDP will go up 6-12 months later.

Capital goods vs. consumer goods

Unlike capital goods, consumer goods are not used to make other products. But some of them can also be durable goods. Durable goods, like consumer goods, are tough and durable.

These are household appliances, such cars, refrigerators and dryers. Consumer product shipments are also included in US GDP. For more information, see Consumer Spending: Almost 70 Percent of GDP.


Many items can be both capital goods and consumer goods. The difference is how the items are used. For example, commercial aircraft are capital goods because they are used by airlines to provide a service or transportation. An airplane used by private pilots for weekend hobbies is a consumer good. The same type of aircraft used for a sightseeing business is a capital good.

Here are a few more examples. Capital goods include trucks and cars that are used by businesses, but not those that are used by families. This includes commercial buildings such as factories, offices, and warehouses. They would include apartment blocks because they are used to provide rental housing that is a service. They would not include private houses.

Computers are capital goods when used by a business but not when used by a family. The same goes for all ovens, refrigerators and dishwashers. If they are only used commercially, they are capital goods.