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 Continue Reading

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 Continue Reading

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 Continue Reading

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 Continue Reading

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 Continue Reading

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 Continue Reading

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 Continue Reading

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 Continue Reading