IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Transition from Industrial Capitalism to a Financialized Bubble Economy

  • Michael Hudson
Registered author(s):

    For the past decade, the U.S. economy has been driven not by industrial investment but by a real estate bubble. Although the United States may seem to be the leading example of industrial capitalism, its economy is no longer based mainly on investing in capital goods to employ labor to produce output to sell at a profit. The largest sector remains real estate, whose cash flow (EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) accounts for over a quarter of national income. Financially, mortgages account for 70 percent of the U.S. economy’s interest payments, reflecting the fact that real estate is the financial system’s major customer. As the economy’s largest asset category, real estate generates most of the economy’s capital gains. The gains are the aim of real investors, as the real estate sector normally operates without declaring any profit. Investors agree to pay their net rental income to their mortgage banker, hoping to sell the property at a capital gain (mainly a land-price gain). The tax system encourages this debt pyramiding. Interest and depreciation absorb most of the cash flow, leaving no income tax due for most of the post-1945 period. States and localities have shifted their tax base off property onto labor via income and sales taxes. Most important, capital gains are taxed at a much lower rate than are current earnings. Investors do not have to pay any capital gains tax at all as long as they invest their gains in the purchase of new property. This tax favoritism toward real estate—and behind it, toward bankers as mortgage lenders—has spurred a shift in U.S. investment away from industry and toward speculation, mainly in real estate but also in the stock and bond markets. A postindustrial economy is thus largely a financialized economy that carries its debt burden by borrowing against capital gains to pay the interest and taxes falling due.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL: http://www.levyinstitute.org/pubs/wp_627.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by Levy Economics Institute in its series Economics Working Paper Archive with number wp_627.

    as
    in new window

    Length:
    Date of creation: Oct 2010
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:lev:wrkpap:wp_627
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.levyinstitute.org

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:lev:wrkpap:wp_627. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Marie-Celeste Edwards)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.