The functions of the financial system of a developed economy are often badly understood. This can largely be attributed to free-market ideology, which has spread the belief that leaving finance to its own devices would provide the best possible mechanism for allocating savings. The latest financial crisis has sparked the beginnings of a new awareness on this point, but it is far from having led to an improved understanding of the role of the financial institutions. For many people, finance remains more an enemy to be resisted than an instrument to be intelligently exploited. Its institutions, which issue and circulate money, play an important role in the working of the real economy that it would be imprudent to neglect. The allocation of savings, but also the level of activity and the growth rate depend on it.
What is the link between money, finance and the real economy? Why does the existence of a substantial potential of saving, instead of being an opportunity for the world economy, threaten it with "secular stagnation"?