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The Legal Foundations of Financial Capitalism


  • Glen Atkinson


The widening of the U.S. market following the adoption of the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution stimulated changes in methods of production and business organization. These changes required a radical change in finance that prompted the Supreme Court to adopt exchange value as the accepted principle of property rights. These rights did not rest on tangible material, but on incorporeal and intangible assets. This legalized the firm as a going concern instead of a bundle of things and enhanced the role of finance relative to production. These evolving business practices and supporting judicial decisions set the U.S. economy on the path that has resulted in our current financial economy. The steps along this path are discussed in this article and we conclude that an economic theory based on intangible property is needed.

Suggested Citation

  • Glen Atkinson, 2010. "The Legal Foundations of Financial Capitalism," Journal of Economic Issues, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(2), pages 289-299.
  • Handle: RePEc:mes:jeciss:v:44:y:2010:i:2:p:289-299
    DOI: 10.2753/JEI0021-3624440202

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