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Der kollektive 'Buddenbrooks-Effekt': Die Finanzmärkte und die Mittelschichten

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  • Deutschmann, Christoph
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    Abstract

    Der Beitrag analysiert die aktuelle Finanzmarktkrise vor dem Hintergrund längerfristiger sozioökonomischer Strukturveränderungen der fortgeschrittenen Industriegesellschaften. Die lange Phase wirtschaftlicher Prosperität nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg hat dazu geführt, dass - bei anhaltender starker sozialer Ungleichheit der Vermögensverteilung - beträchtliche Finanzvermögen auch bei den Mittelschichten der Gesellschaften Westeuropas, der USA und Japans entstanden sind. Der Aufstieg der Investmentfonds als neuer Gruppe kollektiver Akteure auf den globalen Finanzmärkten ist vor diesem Hintergrund zu erklären. Gleichzeitig ist eine zunehmend instabile, durch Finanzkrisen und sinkende wirtschaftliche Wachstumsraten gekennzeichnete wirtschaftliche Entwicklung zu beobachten. In dem Beitrag werden die Zusammenhänge zwischen den genannten Phänomenen im Rahmen einer Mehrebenenanalyse untersucht, die in das Modell eines 'kollektiven Buddenbrooks-Effekts' mündet: Mit der strukturellen Aufwärtsmobilität in der Gesellschaft kommt es zu einem wachsenden Ungleichgewicht an den Vermögensmärkten derart, dass einem überproportionalen Wachstum der Anlage suchenden Finanzvermögen eine sinkende Zahl potenziell solventer Schuldner gegenübersteht. Die Folgen sind eine Neigung zum Netto-Kapitalexport und eine tendenzielle Überliquidität an den Finanzmärkten, mit negativen Auswirkungen auf das wirtschaftliche Wachstum und die soziale Lage der gleichen Mittelschichten, die von der Nachkriegsprosperität zunächst profitiert hatten. Darüber hinaus entsteht die Gefahr von Spekulationsblasen an den Kapitalmärkten. Die These des Beitrages ist, dass das aktuelle Krisengeschehen nicht ohne Berücksichtigung dieser strukturellen Hintergründe verstanden werden kann. -- The paper views the current financial crisis in light of long-term structural socioeconomic changes in advanced industrial societies. In Western Europe, the United States and Japan, the period of economic prosperity after the Second World War led to a remarkable accumulation of wealth among the middle class that had surprisingly little effect on the substantial fortunes of the wealthiest upper class. This affluence gave rise to pension and investment funds emerging as a new type of collective actor in global financial markets, while the economy was marked by increasing instability, declining growth rates and financial crises. The paper tries to clarify the interconnections between these phenomena using the framework of a multilevel analysis that culminates in a model I call the 'collective Buddenbrooks effect' ('Buddenbrooks' being a family saga by Thomas Mann): Structural upward social mobility will lead to an increasing imbalance in capital markets, since the volume of financial assets looking for profitable investment will rise as the social reservoir of solvent debtors and promising investment opportunities decline. Advanced industrial economies are thus characterized by a bias towards capital export and excessive financial liquidity, with the well-known consequences of low economic growth rates and the danger of speculative bubbles on global capital markets. The middle class that originally benefitted from postwar prosperity is negatively affected, too. I argue that the current crisis cannot be understood sufficiently without taking this structural socioeconomic background into account.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in its series MPIfG Working Paper with number 08/5.

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    Date of creation: 2008
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    Handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgw:085

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    1. Markus M. Grabka & Joachim R. Frick, 2008. "Schrumpfende Mittelschicht: Anzeichen einer dauerhaften Polarisierung der verfügbaren Einkommen?," DIW Wochenbericht, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 75(10), pages 101-108.
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