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Technology, distribution and the rate of profit in the US economy: understanding the current crisis

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  • Deepankar Basu
  • Ramaa Vasudevan

Abstract

This paper offers a synoptic account of the state of the debate among Marxist scholars regarding the current structural crisis of capitalism, identifies two broad streams within the literature dealing, in turn, with aggregate demand and profitability problems, and proceeds to concentrate on an analysis of issues surrounding the profitability problem in two steps. First, evidence on profitability trends for the non-farm non-financial corporate business, the non-financial corporate business and the corporate business sectors in post-war USA are summarised. A broad range of profit rate measures are covered and data from both the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (NIPA and Fixed Assets Tables) and the Federal Reserve (Flow of Funds Account) are used. Second, the underlying drivers of profitability, in terms of technology and distribution, are investigated. The profitability analysis is used to offer some hypotheses about the current structural crisis. Copyright , Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Deepankar Basu & Ramaa Vasudevan, 2013. "Technology, distribution and the rate of profit in the US economy: understanding the current crisis," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 37(1), pages 57-89.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:37:y:2013:i:1:p:57-89
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/cje/bes035
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Thomas R. Michl, 1988. "The Two-Stage Decline in U.S. Nonfinancial Corporate Profitability, 1948-1986," Review of Radical Political Economics, Union for Radical Political Economics, vol. 20(4), pages 1-22, December.
    2. James Crotty, 2009. "Structural causes of the global financial crisis: a critical assessment of the 'new financial architecture'," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 33(4), pages 563-580, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Francesco Bogliacino & Dario Guarascio & Valeria Cirillo, 2015. "Where Does the Surplus Go? Disentangling the Capital-Labor Distributive Conflict," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO - ESCUELA DE ECONOMÍA 013535, UN - RCE - CID.
    2. Kemp-Benedict, Eric, 2015. "New ways to slice the pie: Span of control and wage and salary distribution within firms," MPRA Paper 77072, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 24 Feb 2017.
    3. Fernando Rugitsky, 2015. "Financialization, Housing Bubble, and the Great Recession: an interpretation based on a circuit of capital model," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2015_24, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).
    4. Adalmir Marquetti & Catari Vilela Chaves & Leonardo Costa Ribeiro & Eduardo da Motta e Albuquerque, 2018. "Rate of profit in the United States and in China (2007-2014): introductory comparison of two trajectories," Textos para Discussão Cedeplar-UFMG 577, Cedeplar, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais.
    5. Tsoulfidis, Lefteris, 2013. "The ‘new golden age of accumulation’, the new depression and the greek economy," MPRA Paper 60577, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Basu, Deepankar & Das, Debarshi, 2015. "Profitability and Investment: Evidence from India's Organized Manufacturing Sector," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2015-14, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
    7. Francesco Bogliacino & Dario Guarascio & Valeria Cirillo, 2016. "The dynamics of profits and wages: technology, offshoring and demand," LEM Papers Series 2016/04, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    8. Alberto Russo, 2014. "Elements of Novelty, Known Mechanisms, and the Fundamental Causes of the Recent Crisis," Journal of Economic Issues, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(3), pages 743-764.
    9. Ståle Holgersen, 2015. "Crisis and the Post-Industrial City: Or is Malmö Building Yesterday's City Tomorrow, Again?," Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, Royal Dutch Geographical Society KNAG, vol. 106(3), pages 231-245, July.
    10. Freeman, Alan, 2015. "Social Structures of disaccumulation: a 101 on the rate of profit and the cause of crisis," MPRA Paper 69649, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 21 Feb 2016.
    11. Rinaldo Evangelista, 2015. "Technology, development and economic crisis: the Schumpeterian legacy," Working Papers 23, Birkbeck Centre for Innovation Management Research, revised Jun 2015.
    12. repec:bla:metroe:v:68:y:2017:i:1:p:47-90 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Silvia Domeneghetti & Andrea Vaona, 2015. "Regional aspects of aggregate profitability dynamics in Italy," Working Papers 04/2015, University of Verona, Department of Economics.
    14. Basu, Deepankar, 2015. "A Selective Review of Recent Quantitative Empirical Research in Marxist Political Economy," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2015-05, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
    15. Adem Y. Elveren & Sara Hsu, 2016. "Military Expenditures and Profit Rates: Evidence from OECD Countries," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(3), pages 551-577, July.
    16. Kemp-Benedict, Eric, 2015. "A middle-manager model of wage and salary distribution within firms," MPRA Paper 64303, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. repec:oup:indcch:v:26:y:2017:i:1:p:1-20. is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • B51 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Socialist; Marxian; Sraffian
    • E11 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Marxian; Sraffian; Kaleckian

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