Buy The Impact Of Finanicialization On Retail

Buy The Impact Of Finanicialization On Retail
I thought it might help to provide a little context on the subject of financialization and its influence on retail. Let’s begin by defining our terms. When I talk about financialization here, I am referring to the idea that profit making increasingly occurs through financial channels rather than by making and selling things. Where Henry Ford made money by making and selling cars, today the Ford Motor Company makes a large share of its profit through Ford Credit by financing the sale of its products.
Certainly in recent decades the financial sector of the economy has grown relative to other sectors. To use the old economic pie analogy, the slice devoted to finance, insurance and real estate has gotten bigger while some of the other slices, like the one devoted to manufacturing have gotten smaller.
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This all seems pretty innocuous, but it has a huge impact upon our daily life, including what we buy and where. Yet, we rarely stop to examine this phenomenon. If anything, we tend to see it as an inevitable fact of economic life, the result of some natural force of economic evolution. In reality it has been fostered by a series of laws, legal opinions and changes to the tax code.
That is not to say there was some kind of grand conspiracy to “financialize” America. I think it was more a matter of choices that at each point seemed to make sense but collectively had the effect of transforming our economic and social order. To be sure, people and organizations with a vested interest in those decisions tried to influence them in what they saw as a favorable direction – and sometimes their influence carried the day. However, I think the world is far too complex for any cabal to run things.
A bit of historical perspective
Corporations have been with us for a very long time – but not in the form we know them today. There was a time when most businesses were either sole proprietorships or partnerships. In America, corporations with the legal protections they offered investors and their potential to wield power were generally thought to be justifiable only in special cases that required exceedingly large amounts of capital, the most dramatic examples being things like the construction of the Erie Canal or later the transcontinental railroads.
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That began to change in the late 19th century. Advances in transportation and communication made it possible for people to run businesses that were truly national in scope. Building those businesses required large amounts of capital, and corporations provided an ideal structure for attracting investors. The rush was on – but not without opposition in politics and in the courts.
In 1878, the California legislature passed a new state constitution that struck at the power of the railroads. Under this constitution, individuals were allowed to deduct their debts from the value of their property when computing their taxes. Corporations, however, were not allowed to do so because they were not individuals.
The railroads promptly refused to pay their taxes. Several California counties took the railroads to court to force them to pay. Not surprisingly the issue ultimately wound up before the U.S. Supreme Court which ruled against Santa Clara County. Essentially, the court said the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment (which had been passed to ensure the constitutional rights of newly freed slaves) also applied to corporations. The court, in effect, had granted a sort of legal personhood to corporations, a turn of logic that 130 years later would lead the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that limiting the amount of money a corporation could contribute to a political campaign was a violation of its first amendment freedoms.
Certainly, this one case in 1878 is not solely responsible for the new role corporations would play in our society. But it was an important first step – and it is a very clear signal of the changing nature of corporations in America.
Buy The Impact Of Finanicialization On Retail
Many politicians of the late 19th and early 20th centuries argued against these changes. In 1896 William Jennings Bryan electrified the national Democratic convention with his speech in which he blasted the financiers and corporations of his day. His speech won him the party’s presidential nomination. The Republican president Teddy Roosevelt (1901 – 1909) wanted to break up the big companies – or trusts as they were called. He feared they would lead to a concentration of wealth and power that would erode our democracy.
William Jennings Bryan “Cross of Gold” Speech (1896 / 1921) [AUDIO RESTORED] – YouTube
Over time, as corporations became more ingrained on the American scene, these issues would lose salience. In our post-modern age, national corporations have been replaced by multinational ones. Big business is old hat. Today, no major presidential candidate of either party speaks out against corporations with the same intensity as their predecessors did a century before.

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