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Is there a growth imperative in capitalist economies? a circular flow perspective


  • Mathias Binswanger


This paper postulates the existence of a growth imperative in capitalist economies. The argument is based on a simple circular flow model of a pure credit economy, where production takes time. In this economy, positive growth rates are necessary in the long run in order to enable firms to make profits in the aggregate. If the growth rate falls below a certain positive threshold level, firms will make losses. Under these circumstances, they will go out of business, which moves the whole economy into a downward spiral. According to the model presented, capitalist economies can either grow (at a sufficiently high rate) or shrink if the growth rate falls below the positive threshold level. Therefore, a zero growth economy is not feasible in the long run.

Suggested Citation

  • Mathias Binswanger, 2009. "Is there a growth imperative in capitalist economies? a circular flow perspective," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(4), pages 707-727, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:mes:postke:v:31:y:2009:i:4:p:707-727

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Philip Arestis & Malcolm Sawyer, 2003. "Reinventing fiscal policy," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(1), pages 3-25.
    2. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
    3. Atish Ghosh & Steven Phillips, 1998. "Warning: Inflation May Be Harmful to Your Growth," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 45(4), pages 672-710, December.
    4. Günter Coenen & Roland Straub, 2005. "Does Government Spending Crowd in Private Consumption? Theory and Empirical Evidence for the Euro Area," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 8(3), pages 435-470, December.
    5. Mark Gertler & Jordi Gali & Richard Clarida, 1999. "The Science of Monetary Policy: A New Keynesian Perspective," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(4), pages 1661-1707, December.
    6. Peter van Els & Alberto Locarno & Julian Morgan & Jean-Pierre Villetelle, 2001. "Monetary policy transmission in the euro area: what do aggregate and national structural models tell us?," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 433, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    7. Michael Sarel, 1996. "Nonlinear Effects of Inflation on Economic Growth," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 43(1), pages 199-215, March.
    8. Fagan, Gabriel & Henry, Jerome & Mestre, Ricardo, 2005. "An area-wide model for the euro area," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 39-59, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Javier Lopez Bernardo, 2016. "A post-Keynesian theory for the yield on equity markets," Working Papers PKWP1613, Post Keynesian Economics Study Group (PKSG).
    2. Cahen-Fourot, Louison & Lavoie, Marc, 2016. "Ecological monetary economics: A post-Keynesian critique," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 163-168.
    3. Tim Jackson & Peter Victor & Asjad Naqvi, 2016. "Towards a Stock-Flow Consistent Ecological Macroeconomics," WWWforEurope Working Papers series 114, WWWforEurope.
    4. Richters, Oliver & Siemoneit, Andreas, 2017. "Fear of stagnation? A review on growth imperatives," VÖÖ Discussion Papers 6/2017, Vereinigung für Ökologische Ökonomie e.V. (VÖÖ).
    5. Adam B. Barrett, 2017. "Stability of zero-growth economics analysed with a Minskyan model," Papers 1704.08161,, revised Nov 2017.
    6. Giovanni Bernardo & Emanuele Campiglio, 2014. "A simple model of income, aggregate demand and the process of credit creation by private banks," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 41(3), pages 381-405, August.
    7. Wenzlaff, Ferdinand & Kimmich, Christian & Richters, Oliver, 2014. "Theoretische Zugänge eines Wachstumszwangs in der Geldwirtschaft," Discussion Papers 45, University of Hamburg, Centre for Economic and Sociological Studies (CESS/ZÖSS).
    8. Jackson, Tim & Victor, Peter A., 2015. "Does credit create a ‘growth imperative’? A quasi-stationary economy with interest-bearing debt," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 32-48.
    9. Richters, Oliver & Siemoneit, Andreas, 2017. "Wachstumszwänge: Ressourcenverbrauch und Akkumulation als Wettbewerbsverzerrungen," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 169-182.
    10. Strunz, Sebastian & Bartkowski, Bartosz & Schindler, Harry, 2015. "Is there a monetary growth imperative?," UFZ Discussion Papers 5/2015, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Division of Social Sciences (ÖKUS).
    11. Dittmer, Kristofer, 2015. "100 percent reserve banking: A critical review of green perspectives," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 9-16.
    12. Richters, Oliver & Siemoneit, Andreas, 2016. "Consistency and stability analysis of models of a monetary growth imperative," VÖÖ Discussion Papers 1/2016, Vereinigung für Ökologische Ökonomie e.V. (VÖÖ).
    13. Richters, Oliver & Siemoneit, Andreas, 2017. "Consistency and stability analysis of models of a monetary growth imperative," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 114-125.

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    bank money; credit; growth; profits;


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