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Finance Capital Today

Corporations and Banks in the Lasting Global Slump

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François Chesnais

Finance Capital Today is shortlisted for the The Isaac and Tamara Deutscher Memorial Prize 2017.

Finance Capital Today presents a rich new analysis of the specific features of contemporary capitalism, notably its truly global nature and its financialisation, calling on Marxist analyses of the concentration, centralisation and globalisation of capital and Marx’s theory of interest-bearing and fictitious capital. Chesnais shows how financial globalisation and the exponential growth of financial assets have developed alongside the globalisation of productive capital, paying special attention to the contemporary operations of transnational corporations and global oligopoly. He argues that the macroeconomic perspective is one in which large amounts of capital are looking for profitable investment in a setting of underlying overproduction and low profits. The outcome will be low global growth, repeated financial shocks and the growing interconnection between the environmental and economic crises.

François Chesnais

Abstract

This paper argues that present-day imperialism is strongly related to the domination of a precise form of capital, namely highly concentrated interest- and dividend-bearing money-capital which operates in financial markets, breeds today's pervasive fetishism of money, but is totally dependent on surplus-value and production. Two mechanisms ensure the appropriation and/or production of surplus-product and its centralisation to the world system's financial hubs. In the 1980s, foreign debt prevailed. Foreign production and profit repatriation by TNCs now represent the main channel. Following the transfer abroad of part of its production by US TNCs, the issue for the US in their relations with the rest of the world is not the commercialisation of surplus through exports, but dependency on imports and, more crucially, on large inflows of money-capital to support the stock market, buy T-bonds and refinance mortgage. This new dependency helps to explain the 'paradox' that US imperialism is increasingly forced to try and offset this through extra-economic and even military coercion where it can.