Rethinking Economic Growth Theory From a Biophysical Perspective

Neoclassical growth theory is the dominant perspective for explaining economic growth. At its core are four implicit assumptions: 1) economic output can become decoupled from energy consumption; 2) economic distribution is unrelated to growth; 3) large institutions are not important for growth; and 4) labor force structure is not important for growth. Drawing on a […]

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Stock Buybacks vs Greenfield Investment

In his November 29, 2013 piece, ‘Low Capex, High Market Cap: A New High for Corporate Sabotage?’, Edward Lam lends support to CasP’s sabotage thesis by showing how firms with relatively low ‘greenfield’ investment outperform those with relatively high ‘greenfield’ investment. A recent FT article, titled “Money Well Spent?” (Tom Braithwaite, Nicole Bullock and Michael […]

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The Rise and Fall of Debate in Economics

 New data illustrate the extent to which economists have stopped discussing each other’s work. Once upon a time, economists regularly used to publicly criticise each other’s work in academic journals. But not any more. In Figure 1 I have illustrated the degree to which economists have stopped debating. The data have been culled from Jstor, the online database of […]

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Encumbered Behemoth: Wal-Mart, Differential Accumulation and International Retail Restructuring

This chapter draws on, and develops, some aspects of the capital as power framework so as to provide the first clear quantitative explication of the company’s power trajectory to date. After rapid growth in the first four decades of its existence, the power of Wal-Mart appears to be flat-lining relative to dominant capital as a […]

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No. 2014/04: Bichler and Nitzan, "Still About Oil?"

Working Paper No. 2014/04 Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan, “Still About Oil?” During the late 1980s and early 1990s, we identified a new Middle East phenomenon that we called ‘energy conflicts’ and argued that these conflicts were intimately linked with the global processes of capital accumulation. This paper outlines the theoretical framework we have developed over the years […]

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Accumulatory Struggles in the Labratory

A systemic review [PDF] of systemic reviews of scientific literature on the relationship between sugar and obesity found, unsurprisingly, that there is bias in the reviews conducted on behalf of the sugar business. The review’s conclusion reads: “Financial conflicts of interest may bias conclusions from SRs [systemic reviews] on SSB [sugar-sweetened beverages] consumption and weight […]

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Capital as Power and Freelance Creative Work 4

Resonance and dissonance in the rhythms of freelance creative work In the last blog, I applied some of Nitzan and Bichler’s ideas to freelance work in the creative industries. I utilised their conceptualisation of the distinction between creativity and power, and of the sabotage of the former by the latter. Nitzan and Bichler describe the […]

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Capital as Power and Freelance Creative Work 3

Creativity, sabotage and the management of risk and responsibility in freelance creative work Nitzan and Bichler theorise a dissonant relation of sabotage between power and creativity, business and industry. What they show is that the control of creative processes of production is not antithetical to their success. Rather, it is constitutive of this success in […]

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Capital as Power and Freelance Creative Work 2

Capital as Power, risk-aversion and the avoidance of uncertainty Mainstream critiques of contemporary capitalism conducted in the wake of the Great Recession tend to indict  a number of factors. Perceived short-termism. The dangerous compulsion to speculate. An attraction to growth for growth’s sake. The propensity towards the greedy and rapid accumulation of riches. But other […]

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Wal-Mart’s Power Trajectory: A Contribution to the Political Economy of the Firm

Joseph Baines Abstract This article offers a power theory of value analysis of Wal-Mart’s contested expansion in the retail business. More specifically, it draws on, and develops, some aspects of the capital as power framework so as to provide the first clear quantitative explication of the company’s power trajectory to date. After rapid growth in […]

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Francis, Bichler and Nitzan on The Buy-to-Build Indicator: An Exchange

The first part of the exchange is a short article by Joe Francis. The article provides new long-term estimates and an assessment of the buy-to-build indicator for the United States and Britain, going back to the end of the 19th century. The second part offers commentary by Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan. Citation: The Buy-to-Build […]

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Speculation vs Hedging: A False Dichotomy?

How do we make sense of the role of different participants in futures markets? According to the conventional wisdom, market participants can be put into two different categories: hedgers and speculators. Hedgers, such as farmers and other commercial entities, assume positions in the futures market that are equal and opposite to their positions in physical markets. […]

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Complexity Science and Political-Economy: Post 1 – Networks

This series of posts will explore some contemporary fields in “complexity science”. They summarize experiences from the Santa-Fe Institute Complex Systems Summer School 2014, with the hope of suggesting to readers useful research tools for political-economy. Please feel free to contact the author if you are interested in discussing or utilizing any of the approaches […]

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The Brawl on Bay Street

The world of traders has largely been outside political economic analysis. With financial values treated as ‘fictitious’ representations of real values, trading is, at best, a distortion. The actual individuals who perform this role, and supporting roles in the realm of financial intermediation, are given no consideration. From the perspective of CasP, on the other […]

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No. 2014/03: Baines, "The Ethanol Boom and the Restructuring of the Food Regime"

Working Paper No. 2014/03 Joseph Baines, “The Ethanol Boom and the Restructuring of the Food Regime” [A shorter version of this paper is forthcoming at The Journal of Peasant Studies] The agrofuel boom has brought about some of the most significant transformations in the world food system in recent decades. A rich and diverse body […]

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