Video & Paper: Capital Accumulation: Fiction and Reality

Video & Paper: Capital Accumulation: Fiction and Reality

March 31, 2015

Presentation at UQAM, Montreal, organized by Association des Étudiants en Sciences Économiques (AESE UQAM), March 31, 2015

There are many explanations for the recent global crisis, but most seem to agree that the origins of this crisis are largely financial: the crisis started in and was amplified by the financial sector. Of course, when economists speak about a financial crisis, they don’t speak of finance in isolation; they speak of finance in relation to the so-called real capital stock. The current crisis, they argue, happened not because of finance as such, but due to a ‘mismatch’ between financial and real capital. According to this view, the world of finance deviated from and distorted the real world of accumulation; and since there is no such thing as a free lunch, the ensuing financial crash and Great Recession were the price we all had to pay for failing to prevent the distortion. This ‘mismatch thesis’ – the notion of a reality distorted by finance – is broadly accepted. It is the basic premise of liberals, it is endorsed by Marxists, and it guides policy makers. There is only one problem. The mismatch itself does not – and cannot – exist, and for the simplest of reasons: the very distinction between ‘real’ and ‘financial’ capital is entirely fictitious.

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