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Corporate Ownership of the Public Debt: Mapping the New Aristocracy of Finance

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  • Hager, Sandy Brian

Abstract

In various writings Karl Marx made references to an ‘aristocracy of finance’ in Western Europe and the United States that dominated ownership of the public debt. Drawing on original research, this article offers the first comprehensive analysis of public debt ownership within the US corporate sector. The research shows that over the past three decades, and especially in the context of the current crisis, a new aristocracy of finance has emerged, as holdings of the public debt have become rapidly concentrated in favor of large corporations classified within Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE). Operationalizing Wolfgang Streeck’s concept of the ‘debt state’, the article goes on to demonstrate how concentration in ownership of the public debt reinforces patterns of social inequality and proceeds in tandem with a shift in government policy, one that prioritizes the interests of government bondholders over the general citizenry.

Suggested Citation

  • Hager, Sandy Brian, 2015. "Corporate Ownership of the Public Debt: Mapping the New Aristocracy of Finance," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 505-523.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:espost:157794
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    9. Sandy Brian Hager, 2014. "What Happened to the Bondholding Class? Public Debt, Power and the Top One Per Cent," New Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(2), pages 155-182, March.
    10. Hager, Sandy Brian, 2014. "What Happened to the Bondholding Class? Public Debt, Power and the Top One Per Cent (Preprint)," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 155-182.
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    Cited by:

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    3. Bichler, Shimshon & Nitzan, Jonathan, 2020. "Growing through Sabotage: Energizing Hierarchical Power," Review of Capital as Power, Capital As Power - Toward a New Cosmology of Capitalism, vol. 1(5), pages 1-78.
    4. Koddenbrock, Kai, 2017. "What money does: An inquiry into the backbone of capitalist political economy," MPIfG Discussion Paper 17/9, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    5. Giorgos Gouzoulis & Collin Constantine, 2020. "The Political Economy of Inequality in Chile and Mexico: Two Tales of Neoliberalism," Working Papers 235, Department of Economics, SOAS, University of London, UK.
    6. Gouzoulis, Giorgos & Constantine, Collin, 2020. "The Political Economy of Inequality in Chile and Mexico: Two Tales of Neoliberalism," SocArXiv gruzp, Center for Open Science.
    7. Hager, Sandy Brian, 2016. "Public Debt, Inequality and Power. The Making of a Modern Debt State," EconStor Books, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, number 157976.
    8. Arbogast, Tobias, 2020. "Who are these bond vigilantes anyway? The political economy of sovereign debt ownership in the eurozone," MPIfG Discussion Paper 20/2, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.

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