21st Century Capitalism

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In this issue we take up the challenge of William Piketty, whose recent critique of 21st century capitalism is getting much airtime. Though why is a moot point. Because it provides a remedy other than the usual market versus state type, with the state, or regulation and taxation, seeking to call the shots after several decades of neo-liberal predominance? Or because it truly transcends both, which would be an associative response?

With its theme of Capital in the Twenty-First CenturySign of our Time sets the scene with Paul Mason’s useful overview of Piketty’s book, finding somewhat along the same lines – essentially those of taxing the wealthy.

In Capital and Consumption, a recent blog by Bill Gates is reproduced which takes Piketty to task for not including consumption in his considerations, placing too much emphasis on wealth and income and underestimating the role of philanthropy. Gates recognizes, however, the problem of returns to capital outstripping those to labour, which is in many ways the nub of the problem. How are we to understand this phenomenon?

An answer to this question is essayed by John Mugge in Three Kinds of Capital, in which he rehearses his understanding of the problem of excess capital in terms of Rudolf Steiner’s idea of three kinds of money.

Christopher Houghton Budd’s piece on Youth Bonds takes up this theme with a concrete example of how, in terms of today’s practical and technical financial world, such an idea can be given traction.

Youth Bonds are also the focus of the AEX Page, in which various participants in the AE-Exchange chew the cud over this idea.

Finally, this month’s View from Rare Albion blog echoes these concerns by looking at the relationship between money and capital, their link to goods and credit and two perennial themes of this journal: the role of accounting in overcoming today’s challenges and the need to pass from preserving  capital to allowing it to circulate.

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