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Finance capitalism or financial capitalism is the subordination of processes of production to the accumulation of money profits in a financial system.
Production is a process of combining various material inputs and immaterial inputs in order to make something for consumption. It is the act of creating an output, a good or service which has value and contributes to the utility of individuals.
Money is any item or verifiable record that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts, such as taxes, in a particular country or socio-economic context. The main functions of money are distinguished as: a medium of exchange, a unit of account, a store of value and sometimes, a standard of deferred payment. Any item or verifiable record that fulfils these functions can be considered as money.
A 'financial system' is a system that allows the exchange of funds between lenders, investors, and borrowers. Financial systems operate at national and global levels. They consist of complex, closely related services, markets, and institutions intended to provide an efficient and regular linkage between investors and depositors.
Financial capitalism is thus a form of capitalism where the intermediation of saving to investment becomes a dominant function in the economy, with wider implications for the political process and social evolution.Since the late 20th century, in a process sometimes called financialization, it has become the predominant force in the global economy, whether in neoliberal or other form.
Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit. Characteristics central to capitalism include private property, capital accumulation, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system, and competitive markets. In a capitalist market economy, decision-making and investment are determined by every owner of wealth, property or production ability in financial and capital markets, whereas prices and the distribution of goods and services are mainly determined by competition in goods and services markets.
Financialization is a term sometimes used to describe the development of financial capitalism during the period from 1980 until 2010, in which debt-to-equity ratios increased and financial services accounted for an increasing share of national income relative to other sectors.
Neoliberalism or neo-liberalism is the 20th-century resurgence of 19th-century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism and free market capitalism. While it is most often associated with such ideas, the defining features of neoliberalism in both thought and practice has been the subject of substantial scholarly discourse. These ideas include economic liberalization policies such as privatization, austerity, deregulation, free trade and reductions in government spending in order to increase the role of the private sector in the economy and society. These market-based ideas and the policies they inspired constitute a paradigm shift away from the post-war Keynesian consensus which lasted from 1945 to 1980.
Finance capitalism is characterized by a predominance of the pursuit of profit from the purchase and sale of, or investment in, currencies and financial products such as bonds, stocks, futures and other derivatives. It also includes the lending of money at interest; and is seen by Marxist analysts (from whom the term finance capitalism originally derived) as being exploitative by supplying income to non-laborers.Academic defenders of the economic concept of capitalism, such as Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, see such profits as part of the roundabout process by which it grows and hedges against inevitable risks.
To invest is to allocate money in the expectation of some benefit in the future.
A currency, in the most specific use of the word, refers to money in any form when in use or circulation as a medium of exchange, especially circulating banknotes and coins. A more general definition is that a currency is a system of money in common use, especially for people in a nation. Under this definition, US dollars (US$), pounds sterling (£), Australian dollars (A$), European euros (€), Russian rubles (₽) and Indian Rupees (₹) are examples of currency. These various currencies are recognized as stores of value and are traded between nations in foreign exchange markets, which determine the relative values of the different currencies. Currencies in this sense are defined by governments, and each type has limited boundaries of acceptance.
In finance, a bond is an instrument of indebtedness of the bond issuer to the holders. The most common types of bonds include municipal bonds and corporate bonds.
In financial capitalism, financial intermediaries become large concerns, ranging from banks to investment firms. Where deposit banks attract savings and lend out money, while investment banks obtain funds on the interbank market to re-lend for investment purposes, investment firms, by comparison, act on behalf of other concerns, by selling their equities or securities to investors, for investment purposes.
The meaning of the term financial capitalism goes beyond the importance of financial intermediation in the modern capitalist economy. It also encompasses the significant influence of the wealth holders on the political process and the aims of economic policy.
Thomas Palley has argued that the 21st century predominance of finance capital has led to a preference for speculation—Casino Capitalism—over investment for entrepreneurial growth in the global economy.
Thomas Palley is an American economist who has served as the chief economist for the US–China Economic and Security Review Commission. He is currently Schwartz Economic Growth Fellow at the New America Foundation.
Rudolf Hilferding is credited with first bringing the term finance capitalism into prominence, with his (1910) study of the links between German trusts, banks, and monopolies before World War I—a study subsumed by Lenin into his wartime analysis of the imperialist relations of the great world powers.Lenin concluded of the banks at that time that they were “the chief nerve centres of the whole capitalist system of national economy”: for the Comintern, the phrase "dictatorship of finance capitalism" became a regular one.
In such a traditional Marxist perspective, finance capitalism is seen as a dialectical outgrowth of industrial capitalism, and part of the process by which the whole capitalist phase of history comes to an end. In a fashion similar to the views of Thorstein Veblen, finance capitalism is contrasted with industrial capitalism, where profit is made from the manufacture of goods.
Fernand Braudel would later point to two earlier periods when finance capitalism had emerged in human history—with the Genoese in the 16th century and the Dutch in the 17th and 18th centuries—although at those points it was from commercial capitalism that it developed.Giovanni Arrighi extended Braudel's analysis to suggest that a predominance of finance capitalism is a recurring, long-term phenomenon, whenever a previous phase of commercial/industrial capitalist expansion reaches a plateau.
Whereas by mid-century the industrial corporation had displaced the banking system as the prime economic symbol of success,the late twentieth-century growth of derivatives and of a novel banking model ushered in a new (and historically fourth) period of finance capitalism.
Fredric Jameson has seen the globalised abstractions of this current phase of financial capitalism as underpinning the cultural manifestations of postmodernism.
State capitalism is an economic system in which the state undertakes commercial economic activity and where the means of production are organized and managed as state-owned business enterprises, or where there is otherwise a dominance of corporatized government agencies or of publicly listed corporations in which the state has controlling shares. Marxist literature defines state capitalism as a social system combining capitalism with ownership or control by a state—by this definition, a state capitalist country is one where the government controls the economy and essentially acts like a single huge corporation, extracting the surplus value from the workforce in order to invest it in further production. This designation applies regardless of the political aims of the state and some people argue that the modern People's Republic of China constitutes a form of state capitalism and/or that the Soviet Union failed in its goal to establish socialism, but rather established state capitalism.
Financial capital is any economic resource measured in terms of money used by entrepreneurs and businesses to buy what they need to make their products or to provide their services to the sector of the economy upon which their operation is based, i.e. retail, corporate, investment banking, etc.
A market economy is an economic system in which the decisions regarding investment, production and distribution are guided by the price signals created by the forces of supply and demand. The major characteristic of a market economy is the existence of factor markets that play a dominant role in the allocation of capital and the factors of production.
A mixed economy is variously defined as an economic system blending elements of market economies with elements of planned economies, free markets with state interventionism, or private enterprise with public enterprise. There is no single definition of a mixed economy, but rather two major definitions. The first of these definitions refers to a mixture of markets with state interventionism, referring to capitalist market economies with strong regulatory oversight, interventionist policies and governmental provision of public services. The second definition is apolitical in nature and strictly refers to an economy containing a mixture of private enterprise with public enterprise.
Late capitalism is a term coined by continental socialists in the late 1930s that has come to refer to modern capitalism from World War 2 onward. Since 2016, the term has been used in the United States to refer to absurdities, crises, injustices, and inequality created by modern business development.
An economic system is a system of production, resource allocation and distribution of goods and services within a society or a given geographic area. It includes the combination of the various institutions, agencies, entities, decision-making processes and patterns of consumption that comprise the economic structure of a given community. As such, an economic system is a type of social system. The mode of production is a related concept. All economic systems have three basic questions to ask: what to produce, how to produce and in what quantities and who receives the output of production.
In Marxian economics, economic reproduction refers to recurrent processes. Michel Aglietta views economic reproduction as the process whereby the initial conditions necessary for economic activity to occur are constantly re-created. Marx viewed reproduction as the process by which society re-created itself, both materially and socially.
The history of capitalism has diverse and much debated roots, but fully-fledged capitalism is generally thought to have emerged in north-west Europe, especially in the Low Countries and Britain, in the sixteenth to seventeenth centuries. Over the following centuries, capital has accumulated by a variety of different methods, in a variety of scales, and associated with a great deal of variation in the concentration of economic power and wealth, and capitalism has gradually become the dominant economic system throughout the world. Much of the history of the past five hundred years is, therefore, concerned with the development of capitalism in its various forms.
Some economic historians use the term merchant capitalism to refer to the earliest phase in the development of capitalism as an economic and social system. However, others argue that mercantilism, which has flourished widely in the world without the emergence of systems like modern capitalism, is not actually capitalist as such.
Giovanni Arrighi was an Italian scholar of political economy and sociology, and from 1998 a Professor of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University. His work has been translated into over fifteen languages.
Economic planning is a mechanism for the allocation of resources between and within organizations which is held in contrast to the market mechanism. As an allocation mechanism for socialism, economic planning replaces factor markets with a direct allocation of resources within a single or interconnected group of socially-owned organizations.
Hyman Philip Minsky was an American economist, a professor of economics at Washington University in St. Louis, and a distinguished scholar at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His research attempted to provide an understanding and explanation of the characteristics of financial crises, which he attributed to swings in a potentially fragile financial system. Minsky is sometimes described as a post-Keynesian economist because, in the Keynesian tradition, he supported some government intervention in financial markets, opposed some of the financial deregulation policies popular in the 1980s, stressed the importance of the Federal Reserve as a lender of last resort and argued against the over-accumulation of private debt in the financial markets.
Monopoly Capital: An Essay on the American Economic and Social Order is a book by Paul Sweezy and Paul A. Baran published in 1966 by Monthly Review Press. It made a major contribution to Marxian theory by shifting attention from the assumption of a competitive economy to the monopolistic economy associated with the giant corporations that dominate the modern accumulation process. Their work played a leading role in the intellectual development of the New Left in the 1960s and 1970s. As a review in the American Economic Review stated, it represented “the first serious attempt to extend Marx’s model of competitive capitalism to the new conditions of monopoly capitalism.” It attracted renewed attention following the Great Recession.
Uneven and combined development is a Marxist concept to describe the overall dynamics of human history. It was originally used by the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky around the turn of the 20th century, when he was analyzing the developmental possibilities that existed for the economy and civilization in the Russian empire, and the likely future of the Tsarist regime in Russia. It was the basis of his political strategy of permanent revolution, which implied a rejection of the idea that a human society inevitably developed through a uni-linear sequence of necessary "stages". Also before Trotsky, Nikolay Chernyshevsky and Vasily Vorontsov proposed a similar idea. The concept is still used today by Trotskyists and other Marxists concerned with world politics.
Production for use is a phrase referring to the principle of economic organization and production taken as a defining criterion for a socialist economy. It is held in contrast to production for profit. This criterion is used to distinguish socialism from capitalism, and was one of the fundamental defining characteristics of socialism initially shared by Marxian socialists, evolutionary socialists, social anarchists and Christian socialists.
Throughout modern history, a variety of perspectives on capitalism have evolved based on different schools of thought.
Economic democracy is a socioeconomic philosophy that proposes to shift decision-making power from corporate managers and corporate shareholders to a larger group of public stakeholders that includes workers, customers, suppliers, neighbours and the broader public. No single definition or approach encompasses economic democracy, but most proponents claim that modern property relations externalize costs, subordinate the general well-being to private profit and deny the polity a democratic voice in economic policy decisions. In addition to these moral concerns, economic democracy makes practical claims, such as that it can compensate for capitalism's inherent effective demand gap.
Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1917), by Vladimir Lenin, describes the function of financial capital in generating profits from imperialist colonialism as the final stage of capitalist development to ensure greater profits. The essay is a synthesis of Lenin's modifications and developments of economic theories that Karl Marx formulated in Das Kapital (1867).