Real GDP: The Flawed Metric at the Heart of Macroeconomics

May 1, 2019

Blair Fix, Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler The study of economic growth is central to macroeconomics. More than anything else, macroeconomists are concerned with finding policies that encourage growth. And by ‘growth’, they mean the ­growth of real GDP. This measure has become so central to macroeconomics that few economists question its validity. Our intention … Read More

Fix, ‘Energy, Hierarchy and the Origin of Inequality’

April 25, 2019

ABSTRACT Where should we look to understand the origin of inequality? I propose an unusual window of evidence — modern societies. I hypothesize that evidence for the origin of inequality is encoded in the institutional structure of industrial societies. To test this idea, I use a model to project modern trends into the past. This … Read More

On the Power Theory of Capitalism and Differential Accumulation

April 19, 2019

*** By Ken Zimmerman This piece was originally posted on the Real-World Economics Review Blog here and here. *** Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan are Israeli political economists. Together they’ve created a thought-provoking power theory of capitalism and theory of differential accumulation. The theory is not “pie-in-the-sky,” but is based in their analysis of the … Read More

2019/03: McMahon, ‘Selling Hollywood to China’

April 15, 2019

ABSTRACT From the 1980s to the present, Hollywood’s major distributors have been able to redistribute U.S. theatrical attendance to the advantage of their biggest blockbusters and franchises. At the global scale and during the same period, Hollywood has been leveraging U.S. foreign power to break ground in countries that have historically protected and supported their … Read More

2019/02: Fix, ‘How the Rich are Different: Hierarchical Power as the Basis of Income and Class’

April 15, 2019

What makes the rich different? Are they more productive, as mainstream economists claim? I offer another explanation. What makes the rich different, I propose, is hierarchical power. The rich command hierarchies. The poor do not. It is this greater control over subordinates, I hypothesize, that explains the income and class of the very rich. I … Read More

Fix, ‘Dematerialization Through Services: Evaluating the Evidence’

March 16, 2019

ABSTRACT Dematerialization through services is a popular proposal for reducing environmental impact. The idea is that by shifting from the production of goods to the provision of services, a society can reduce its material demands. But do societies with a larger service sector actually dematerialize? I test the ‘dematerialization through services’ hypothesis with a focus … Read More

2019/01: Bichler & Nitzan, ‘Differential Accumulation versus Veblen’s “Differential Advantage” (Revised and Expanded)’

January 30, 2019

This paper clarifies a common misrepresentation of our theory of capital as power, or CasP. Many observers tend to box CasP as an ‘institutionalist’ theory, tracing its central process of ‘differential accumulation’ to Thorstein Veblen’s notion of ‘differential advantage’. This view, we argue, betrays a misunderstanding of CasP, Veblen or both. First, we are not … Read More

Fix, ‘The Aggregation Problem: Implications for Ecological and Biophysical Economics’

January 4, 2019

ABSTRACT This paper discusses the dimension problem in economic aggregation, as it relates to ecological and biophysical economics. The dimension problem consists of a simple dilemma: when we aggregate, the observer must choose the dimension of analysis. The dilemma is that this choice affects the resulting measurement. This means that aggregate measurements are dependent on … Read More