Circulating capital

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Circulating capital includes intermediate goods and operating expenses, i.e., short-lived items that are used in production and used up in the process of creating other goods or services. [1] This is roughly equal to intermediate consumption. Finer distinctions include raw materials, intermediate goods, inventories, ancillary operating expenses and (working capital). It is contrasted with fixed capital. The term was used in more specialized ways by classical economists such as Adam Smith, David Ricardo and Karl Marx.

Intermediate good partly finished goods, used as inputs in the production of other goods including final goods

Intermediate goods or producer goods or semi-finished products are goods, such as partly finished goods, used as inputs in the production of other goods including final goods. A firm may make and then use intermediate goods, or make and then sell, or buy then use them. In the production process, intermediate goods either become part of the final product, or are changed beyond recognition in the process. This means intermediate goods are resold among industries.

Intermediate consumption is an economic concept used in national accounts, such as the United Nations System of National Accounts (UNSNA), the US National Income and Product Accounts (NIPA) and the European System of Accounts (ESA).

Inventory goods held for resale

Inventory or stock is the goods and materials that a business holds for the ultimate goal of resale.

Where the distinction is used, circulating capital is a component of (total) capital, also including fixed capital used in a single cycle of production. In contrast to fixed capital, it is used up in every cycle (raw materials, basic and intermediate materials, combustible, energy…). In accounting, the circulating capital comes under the heading of current assets.

In economics and accounting, fixed capital is any kind of real, physical asset that is used in the production of a product but is not used up in the production. It contrasts with circulating capital such as raw materials, operating expenses and the like. It was first theoretically analyzed in some depth by the economist David Ricardo.

Building on the work of Quesnay and Turgot, Adam Smith (1776) made the first explicit distinction between fixed and circulating capital. [1] In his usage, circulating capital includes wages and labour maintenance, money, and inputs from land, mines, and fisheries associated with production. [2]

Adam Smith 18th-century Scottish moral philosopher and political economist

Adam Smith was a Scottish economist, philosopher and author as well as a moral philosopher, a pioneer of political economy and a key figure during the Scottish Enlightenment, also known as ''The Father of Economics''. Smith wrote two classic works, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776). The latter, often abbreviated as The Wealth of Nations, is considered his magnum opus and the first modern work of economics. In his work, Adam Smith introduced his theory of absolute advantage.

According to Karl Marx (second volume of Das Kapital, end of chapter 7) the turnover of capital influences "the processes of production and self-expansion", the two new forms of capital, circulating and fixed, "accrue to capital from the process of circulation and affect the form of its turnover". In the following chapter Marx defines fixed capital and circulating capital. In chapter 9 he claims: "We have here not alone quantitative but also qualitative difference."

Karl Marx Revolutionary socialist

Karl Marx was a German philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist and socialist revolutionary.

<i>Das Kapital</i> Book by Karl Marx

Das Kapital, also known as The Capital. Critique of Political Economy by Karl Marx is a foundational theoretical text in materialist philosophy, economics and politics. Marx aimed to reveal the economic patterns underpinning the capitalist mode of production, in contrast to classical political economists such as Adam Smith, Jean-Baptiste Say, David Ricardo and John Stuart Mill. Marx did not live to publish the planned second and third parts, but they were both completed from his notes and published after his death by his colleague Friedrich Engels. Das Kapital is the most cited book in the social sciences published before 1950.

Revenue income that a business has from its normal business activities

In accounting, revenue is the income that a business has from its normal business activities, usually from the sale of goods and services to customers. Revenue is also referred to as sales or turnover. Some companies receive revenue from interest, royalties, or other fees. Revenue may refer to business income in general, or it may refer to the amount, in a monetary unit, earned during a period of time, as in "Last year, Company X had revenue of $42 million". Profits or net income generally imply total revenue minus total expenses in a given period. In accounting, in the balance statement it is a subsection of the Equity section and revenue increases equity, it is often referred to as the "top line" due to its position on the income statement at the very top. This is to be contrasted with the "bottom line" which denotes net income.

Conventionally, (physical) capital assets held by a business for more than one year are regarded in annual accounting statements as "fixed", the rest as "circulating". In modern economies such as the United States, roughly half of the intermediate inputs bought or used by businesses are in fact services, and not goods.

In economics, physical capital or just capital is a factor of production, consisting of machinery, buildings, computers, and the like. The production function takes the general form Y=f(K, L, N), where Y is the amount of output produced, K is the amount of capital stock used, L is the amount of labor used, and N is the amount of natural resources used. In economic theory, physical capital is one of the three primary factors of production; the others are natural resources, and labor—the stock of competences embodied in the labor force. Physical capital is distinct from human capital, circulating capital, and financial capital. Physical capital is fixed capital, which is any kind of real physical asset that is not used up in the production of a product. Usually the value of land is not included in physical capital as it is not a reproducible product of human activities.


  1. 1 2 Mark Blaug, 2008. "circulating capital," The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics , 2nd Edition. Abstract.
  2. Adam Smith, 1776. Wealth of Nations, Books II, ch. 1, 2, and 5.

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David Ricardo British political economist, broker and politician

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