Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Venice, Holland, England, USA, ?

"Along with national debt there arose an international credit system, which often conceals one of the sources of primitive accumulation in this or that people.Thus the villanies of the Venetian system of robbery formed one of the secret foundations of Holland's wealth in capital, for Venice in her years of decadence lent large sums of money to Holland. There is a similar relationship between Holland and England. By the beginning of the eighteenth century, Holland's manufacturers had been far outstripped. It had ceased to become the nation preponderant in commerce and industry. One of its main lines of business , therefore, from 1701 to 1776, was lending out of enormous amounts of capital, especially to its great rival England. The same thing is going on today between England and the United States..." - Marx, Capital, p.920

One could place FDI in the developing world within the context of this described 'international credit system'. And China has been the largest nation-state recipient of FDI over the last 20 years. The point being, this story has been told before.

But there are good reasons to believe it will not end the same way. Greater amounts of accumulated capital require exponentially larger pools of labor in order to sustain profit. And there is simply not enough surplus labor, within a system of developed infrastruture, to continue on indefinitely. This was the importance of China to begin with. But there are no more China's left, if and when wages increase there to the point where they impinge on profitability. The end of cheap resource extraction will also put constraints on profit rates, and discourage the productive (rather than speculative) investment of capital.

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