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  • 1
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    s.l.: Forum on Capital As Power - Toward a New Cosmology of Capitalism
    Publication Date: 2018-06-22
    Description: The U.S. stock market is again in turmoil. After a two-year bull run in which share prices soared by nearly 50 per cent, the market is suddenly dropping. Since the beginning of 2018, it lost nearly 10 per cent of its value, threatening investors with an official ‘correction’ or worse. As always, there is no shortage of explanations. Politically inclined analysts emphasize Trump’s recently announced trade wars, sprawling scandals and threatening investigations, as well as the broader turn toward ‘populism’; interest-rate forecasters point to central-bank tightening and china’s negative credit impulse; quants speak of breached support lines and death crosses; bottom-up analysts highlight the negative implications of the Face-book/Cambridge Analytica debacle for the ‘free-data’ business model; and top-down fundamentalists indicate that, at near-record valuations, the stock market is a giant bubble ready to be punctured. And on the face of it, these explanations all ring true. They articulate various threats to future profits, interest rates and risk perceptions, and since equity prices discount expected risk-adjusted future earnings, these threats imply lower prices. But there is one little problem. Unlike their pundits, capitalists nowadays tend to look not forward, but backward: instead of matching asset prices to the distant future, they fit them to the immediate past.
    Keywords: P16 ; G01 ; ddc:330 ; asset pricing ; capitalization ; capitalized power ; major bear markets ; stock market ; systemic fear
    Repository Name: EconStor: OA server of the German National Library of Economics - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics
    Language: English
    Type: doc-type:workingPaper
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2018-12-05
    Description: As these lines are being written (April 2018), the The U.S. stock market is again in turmoil. After a two-year bull run in which share prices soared by nearly 50 per cent, the market is suddenly dropping. Since the beginning of 2018, it lost nearly 10 per cent of its value, threatening investors with an official ‘correction’ or worse. As always, there is no shortage of explanations. Politically inclined analysts emphasize Trump’s recently announced trade wars, sprawling scandals and threatening investigations, as well as the broader turn toward ‘populism’; interest-rate forecasters point to central-bank tightening and china’s negative credit impulse; quants speak of breached support lines and death crosses; bottom-up analysts highlight the negative implications of the Facebook / Cambridge Analytica debacle for the ‘free-data’ business model; and top-down fundamentalists indicate that, at near-record valuations, the stock market is a giant bubble ready to be punctured. And on the face of it, these explanations all ring true. They articulate various threats to future profits, interest rates and risk perceptions, and since equity prices discount expected risk-adjusted future earnings, these threats imply lower prices. But there is one little problem. Unlike their pundits, capitalists nowadays tend to look not forward, but backward: instead of matching asset prices to the distant future, they fit them to the immediate past.
    Keywords: G01 ; G17 ; P16 ; ddc:330 ; asset pricing ; capitalization ; capitalized power ; major bear markets ; stock market ; systemic crisis ; systemic fear
    Repository Name: EconStor: OA server of the German National Library of Economics - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics
    Language: English
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  • 3
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    Toronto, Ontario: The Bichler and Nitzan Archives
    Publication Date: 2017-05-22
    Description: This paper offers a new theoretical approach for comparing the current political-economic U-turns in South Africa and Israel. Our principal focus is on a revised notion of capital, emphasizing the central role of differential accumulation by dominant capital groups. We further distinguish between an antagonistic “depth” regime in which differential accumulation is achieved via stagflation, and a less conflictual “breadth” regime where redistribution occurs through growth. Within this framework, we argue that both the recent transition in the two countries, as well as their former regimes, were greatly affected by global developments. Until the 1980s, accumulation in both countries depended largely on depth, characterized by a marked disparity between deepening crisis on the one hand, and rapid differential accumulation on the other. In South Africa, the large companies benefited disproportionately from the impact on gold profit of global inflation, and were therefore reluctant to abandon apartheid. Similarly, Israel’s leading firms recorded spectacular gains riding the global arms race and regional conflict, and hence voiced little opposition to the continuation of a war economy at home. Recently, however, these global forces went into reverse, triggering in both countries a shift from depth to breadth. The disinflation associated with rapid globalization undermined gold profit in South Africa, while the end of the Cold War pulled the rug from under the global arms race, drying up the flow of war profit in Israel. In these new conditions, dominant capital groups in the two countries can sustain their differential accumulation only by investing outside their own borders. Capital mobility, though, requires political-economic stability, hence the support of these groups for democracy in South Africa and to regional reconciliation in Israel.
    Keywords: ddc:330 ; Arms ; accumulation ; acquisitions ; apartheid ; capital ; capitalism ; centralization ; competition ; conflict ; conglomeration ; corporation ; credit ; crisis ; debt ; demographics ; development ; distribution ; dual economy ; elite ; energy ; finance ; globalization ; gold
    Repository Name: EconStor: OA server of the German National Library of Economics - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics
    Language: English
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  • 4
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    Toronto, Ontario: The Bichler and Nitzan Archives
    Publication Date: 2017-05-22
    Description: Existing theories of capital, neo-classical as well as Marxist, are anchored in the material sphere of production and consumption. This article offers a new analytical framework for capital as a crystallization of power. The relative nature of power requires accumulation to be measured in differential, not absolute, terms. For absentee owners, the main goal is not to maximize pro.ts, but rather to “beat the average” and exceed the “normal rate of return”. The theoretical framework builds on Thorstein Veblen’s separation of industry from business and on Lewis Mumford’s dichotomy between democratic and authoritarian techniques. Extending their contributions, we argue that capital is a business, not an industrial category, a human mega-machine rather than a material artefact. Indeed, it is the social essence of capital which makes accumulation possible in the .rst place. Capital measures the present value of future business earnings, and these depend not on the productivity of industry as such, but on the ability of absentee owners strategically to limit such productivity to their own differential ends. Introducing the twin concepts of the “differential power of capital” (DPK) and the rate of “differential accumulation” (DA), we examine the non-linear and possibly negative link between industrial growth and accumulation in the USA.
    Keywords: ddc:330 ; accumulation ; capital ; capitalism ; centralization ; competition ; conflict ; conglomeration ; corporation ; credit ; crisis ; debt ; development ; distribution ; dual economy ; elite ; finance ; institutionalism ; Marxism ; methodology ; Mumford ; ownership ; Palestine ; po
    Repository Name: EconStor: OA server of the German National Library of Economics - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics
    Language: English
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  • 5
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    Toronto, Ontario: The Bichler and Nitzan Archives
    Publication Date: 2017-05-18
    Description: An exchange between Andrew Kliman and Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan. 1. Andrew Kliman: 'Value and Crisis: Bichler and Nitzan versus Marx' EDITORS' NOTE: In the first article, Andrew Kliman responds to Bichler and Nitzan's recent paper on 'Systemic Fear, Modern Finance and the Future of Capitalism' (2010). He then goes on to raise a series of issues concerning the critique of Marxian value theory which these authors put forward in their book Capital as Power (Nitzan and Bichler, 2009). It is followed by a rejoinder from Bichler and Nitzan. 2. Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan: 'Kliman on Systemic Fear: A Rejoinder' EDITORS' NOTE: Andrew Kliman's paper in this issue, 'Value and Crisis: Bichler and Nitzan versus Marx', consists of two sections. The first section deals with Bichler and Nitzan's recent paper on 'Systemic Fear, Modern Finance and the Future of Capitalism' (2010). The second section takes issue with their earlier critique of Marx’s labour theory of value (Nitzan and Bichler, 2009), and offers an explanation of the global economic crisis. In the following rejoinder, Bichler and Nitzan address the points raised in the first of these sections.
    Keywords: ddc:330 ; behavioural finance ; capital ; capitalization ; distribution ; dogma ; fear ; labour theory of value ; major bear markets ; Marxism ; power ; profit ; science ; sleepwalking ; systemic crisis
    Repository Name: EconStor: OA server of the German National Library of Economics - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics
    Language: English
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  • 6
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    Toronto, Ontario: The Bichler and Nitzan Archives
    Publication Date: 2017-05-22
    Description: Over the past century, the institution of capital and the process of its accumulation have been fundamentally transformed. By contrast, the theories that explain this institution and process have remained largely unchanged. The purpose of this paper is to address this mismatch. Using a broad brush, we outline a new, power theory of capital and accumulation. We use this theory to assess the changing meaning of the corporation and the capitalist state, the new ways in which capital gets accumulated and the specific historical trajectory of twentieth-century capitalism up to the present.
    Keywords: ddc:330 ; arms ; accumulation ; capital ; flow ; capitalism ; conflict ; corporation ; crisis ; distribution ; elite ; energy ; finance ; globalization ; growth ; imperialism ; GPE ; liberalism ; Marxism ; Middle East ; military ; national ; interest ; neoclassical economics ; neoliberal
    Repository Name: EconStor: OA server of the German National Library of Economics - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics
    Language: English
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  • 7
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    Toronto, Ontario: The Bichler and Nitzan Archives
    Publication Date: 2017-05-18
    Description: This is the latest in a series of articles we have been writing on the current crisis. The purpose of our previous papers was to characterize the crisis. We claimed that it was a 'systemic crisis', and that capitalists were gripped by 'systemic fear'. In this article, we seek to explain why. The problem that capitalists face today, we argue, is not that their power has withered, but, on the contrary, that their power has increased. Indeed, not only has their power increased, it has increased by so much that it might be approaching its asymptote. And since capitalists look not backward to the past but forward to the future, they have good reason to fear that, from now on, the most likely trajectory of this power will be not up, but down. The paper begins by setting up our general framework and key concepts. It continues with a step-by-step deconstruction of key power processes in the United States, attempting to assess how close these processes are to their asymptotes. And it concludes with brief observations about what may lie ahead.
    Keywords: ddc:330 ; capitalization ; distribution ; power ; systemic crisis ; United States
    Repository Name: EconStor: OA server of the German National Library of Economics - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics
    Language: English
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  • 8
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    Toronto, Ontario: The Bichler and Nitzan Archives
    Publication Date: 2017-05-18
    Description: Do capitalists really want a recovery? Can they afford it? On the face of it, the question sounds silly: of course capitalists want a recovery; how else can they prosper? According to the textbooks, both mainstream and heterodox, capital accumulation and economic growth are two sides of the same process. Accumulation generates growth and growth fuels accumulation, so it seems bootless to ask whether capitalists want growth. Growth is their lifeline, and the more of it, the better it is. Or is it? In the United States, rising unemployment – which hammers the well-being of workers, unincorporated businesses and the unemployed – serves not to undermine but to boost the overall income share of capitalists. And as employment growth decelerates, the income share of the Top 1% – which includes the capitalists as well as their protective power belt – soars. Under these circumstances, what reason do capitalists have to ‘get the economy going’? Why worry about rising unemployment and zero job growth when these very processes serve to boost their income-share-read-power?
    Keywords: ddc:330 ; crisis ; DA ; economic policy ; economic theory ; growth ; income distribution ; Marxism ; monetarism ; neoclassical economics ; power ; profit ; underconsumption ; United States
    Repository Name: EconStor: OA server of the German National Library of Economics - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics
    Language: English
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  • 9
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    Toronto, Ontario: The Bichler and Nitzan Archives
    Publication Date: 2017-05-22
    Description: The recent shift from ‘global villageism’ to the ‘new wars’ revealed a deep crisis in heterodox political economy. The popular belief in neoliberal globalization, peace dividends, fiscal conservatism and sound finance that dominated the 1980s and 1990s suddenly collapsed. The early 2000s brought rising xenophobia, growing military budgets and policy profligacy. Radicals were the first to identify this transition, but their attempts to explain it have been bogged down by two major hurdles: (1) most writers continue to apply nineteenth century theories and concepts to twenty-first century realities; and (2) few seem to bother with empirical analysis. This paper offers a radical alternative that is both theoretically new and empirically grounded. We use the ‘new wars’ as a stepping stone to understand a triple transformation that altered the nature of capital, the accumulation of capital and the unit of capital. Specifically, our argument builds on a power understanding of capital that emphasizes differential accumulation by dominant capital groups. Accumulation, we argue, has little to do with the amassment of material things measured in ‘utils’ or ‘dead labour.’ Instead, accumulation, or ‘capitalization,’ represents a commodification of power by leading groups in society. Over the past century, this power has been re-structured and concentrated through two distinct regimes of differential accumulation – ‘breadth’ and ‘depth.’ A breadth regime relies on proletarianization, on green-field investment and, particularly, on mergers and acquisitions. A depth regime builds on redistribution through stagflation – that is, on differential inflation in the midst of stagnation. In contrast to breadth which presupposes some measure of growth and stability, depth thrives on ‘accumulation through crisis.’ The past twenty years were dominated by breadth, buttressed by neoliberal rhetoric, globalization and capital mobility. This regime started to run into mounting difficulties in the late 1990s, and eventually collapsed in 2000. For differential accumulation to continue, dominant capital now needs inflation, and inflation requires instability and social crisis. It is within this broader dynamics of power accumulation that the new wars need to be understood.
    Keywords: ddc:330 ; Arms ; accumulation ; capital ; capitalism ; conflict ; corporation ; crisis ; distribution ; elite ; energy ; finance ; globalization ; growth ; imperialism ; GPE ; liberalism ; Middle East ; military ; national interest ; neoliberalism ; oil ; OPEC ; ownership ; peace ; power
    Repository Name: EconStor: OA server of the German National Library of Economics - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics
    Language: English
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  • 10
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    Toronto, Ontario: The Bichler and Nitzan Archives
    Publication Date: 2017-05-18
    Description: THE MISMATCH THESIS: What do economists mean when they talk about "capital accumulation"? Surprisingly, the answer to this question is anything but clear, and it seems the most unclear in times of turmoil. Consider the "financial crisis" of the late 2000s. The very term already attests to the presumed nature and causes of the crisis, which most observers indeed believe originated in the financial sector and was amplified by pervasive financialization. However, when theorists speak about a financial crisis, they don’t speak about it in isolation. They refer to finance not in and of itself, but in relation to the so-called real capital stock. The recent crisis, they argue, happened not because of finance as such, but due to a mismatch between financial and real capital. The world of finance, they complain, has deviated from and distorted the real world of accumulation. According to the conventional script, this mismatch commonly appears as a "bubble", a recurring disease that causes finance to inflate relative to reality. The bubble itself, much like cancer, develops stealthily. It is extremely hard to detect, and as long as it’s growing, nobody – save a few prophets of doom – seems able to see it. It is only after the market has crashed and the dust has settled that, suddenly, everybody knows it had been a bubble all along. Now, bubbles, like other deviations, distortions and mismatches, are born in sin. They begin with "the public" being too greedy and "policy makers" too lax; they continue with "irrational exuberance" that conjures up fictitious wealth out of thin air; and they end with a financial crisis, followed by recession, mounting losses and rising unemployment – a befitting punishment for those who believed they could trick Milton Friedman into giving them a free lunch. This "mismatch thesis" – the notion of a reality distorted by finance – is broadly accepted. In 2009, The Economist of London accused its readers of confusing "financial assets with real ones", singling out their confusion as the root cause of the brewing crisis. Real assets, or wealth, the magazine explained, consist of “goods and products we wish to consume" or of "things that give us the ability to produce more of what we want to consume". Financial assets, by contrast, are not wealth; they are simply "claims on real wealth". To confuse the inflation of the latter for the expansion of the former is the surest recipe for disaster. The division between real wealth and financial claims on real wealth is a fundamental premise of political economy. This premise is accepted not only by liberal theorists, analysts and policymakers, but also by Marxists of various persuasions. And as we shall show below, it is a premise built on very shaky foundations. When liberals and Marxists say that there is a mismatch between financial and real capital, they are essentially making, explicitly or implicitly, three related claims: (1) that these are indeed separate entities; (2) that these entities should correspond to each other; and (3) that, in the actual world, they often do not. In what follows, we explain why these claims don’t hold water. To put it bluntly, neither liberals nor Marxists know how to compare real and financial capital, and the main reason is simple: they don’t know how to determine the magnitude of real capital to start with. The common, makeshift solution is to estimate this magnitude indirectly, by using the money price of capital goods – yet this doesn’t solve the problem either, since capital goods can have many prices and there is no way of knowing which of them, if any, is the “true" one. Last but not least, even if we turn a blind eye and allow for these logical impossibilities and empirical travesties to stand, the result is still highly embarrassing. As it turns out, financial accumulation not only deviates from and distorts real accumulation (or so we are told), it also follows an opposite trajectory. For more than two centuries, economists left and right have argued that capitalists – and therefore capitalism – thrive on "real investment" and the growth of "real capital". But as we shall see, in reality, the best time for capitalists is when their “real accumulation” tanks! . . .
    Keywords: ddc:330 ; capital accumulation ; finance ; Marxism ; measurement ; neoclassical economics ; real-nominal duality ; Tobin’s Q
    Repository Name: EconStor: OA server of the German National Library of Economics - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics
    Language: English
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