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By Owen Paine on Saturday October 23, 2010 12:32 PM

"For decades, as productivity goes up, wages stagnate. The profits from increased productivity are siphoned off into the financial sector... In order to maintain the high profits drained by the financial sector, and avoid paying higher wages, one industry after another has moved its production to cheap labor countries. Profitable enterprises shut down as capital goes looking for even higher profit."
That's a line you see everywhere on the anti-neo-lib left these days: the financial sector is sucking off the value added of production corporations, so production corporations are moving production to low-wage foreign platforms.

Fine, and the piece it's from is fine too, but "how" is the important question: how does the financial sector suck off this value to start the cycle?

The literary left hasn't a clue, and I bet readers here, besides a sifted few, don't either.

Hint: it isn't by high interest rates.

Comments (38)


We await enlightenment...


We give them the money.


I'm sure there are important details I'm missing though. You know, like the fascia built on top of the greed, the molding that hides sloppy carpentry, etc.

Pretending it's esoteric and complex merely preserves the "expertise" angle.

Christ. Don't look at me. I'm still trying to figure out who in America can afford the shoddy, ugly shit I throw around while temping-- on what passes for American wages even for those still working. Never mind trying to figure out why the fuck anyone would want it.

Hey, I've now worked this piece of crap temp job about as long as I worked the last "permanent" job. It's a great deal for the agency and its client. I run my ass off daily and never see so much as a single benefit. Oh, unless you count free bandages and coffee. And the infantilization that comes from having to fucking sign in and out to use the goddamn bathroom.

Yes, I know. Look at all that Obama and his friends have done for me, and still all I do is complain. Truly, we are not worthy to kiss the hems of the masters' garments. Truly, I weep openly now.

Managerial devotion to maximizing share price, which, because it presses every button, including constant pursuit of and defense against mergers and acquisitions, is an even more thorough enforcer of the capitalist aim than mere attention to operating margins and sales strategy.


b******** f***!


Finance makes big money on commissions.


Like the quiz aspect of this post. Keep us guessing and the comment count will rise and rise and rise.

My man Hudson has suggested that the magic behind the FIRE sector's dominance has been a conversion of tax revenue into interest payments. How does this happen? Lower taxes, bigger mortgages.


Um.....what "value added" are we talking about here? At a total system, capital has been in a disaccumulation phase since the late 60s/early 70s. Any apparent growth in productivity is due to finance bubbles. The financial sector churns up this fictional capital, the Dow Jones goes through the roof, etc, but the house of cards comes crashing down when so-called productive industries cannot absorb enough labor power to valorize as surplus value and make good on all the wagers. The financial sector is not the vampire of productive industries, which produce vast quantities of (mostly useless) goods but precious little surplus value these day. Finance is life support for capitalism. But that heart won't start beating again unless we see a WW2-style global destruction of fixed capital. Even that might not do the trick.


"which produce vast quantities of (mostly useless) goods but precious little surplus value these day." ??

Who consumes the "(mostly useless) goods"? Is their consumption useless or disapproved.

This http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0510/36661.html article on hedge funds provides some clues as to how private equity firms hollowed out our economy.


To anonymous: I suppose "useless" presumes too much. I was thinking of goods that simply cannot be sold (overproduction of automobiles, for instance) or that are wasted (up to 30% of global food production) and also of the myriad of commodities whose use value is so contrived that, were one to make more rational decisions about whether or not to produce such commodities, they would likely be judged a waste of the time and resources required to produce them. The only calculus that matters, as far as capital is concerned, is whether goods can be sold, not whether they are actually consumed.

So, dettman, your claim is that employers can't pay the workers they've hired? That's preposterous, as is your use of the word "valorize."

You ought to put down the unpublished Volumes II and III and try reading the news. If you had, you might be aware that the system is awash in surpluses that have nowhere to go.

As to "useless" goods and services, this is the kind of wild talk that guarantees to left will get nowhere. And the vast majority of goods that cannot be sold never get produced, thanks to non-investment of super-abundant capital.

If this were a supply-side/falling-rate-of-profit crisis, why wouldn't the present recession and financial and corporate bailouts be working?


More CNN, less Marx. Yep, I'll get right to it.


great stuff !!!
dettman provided authentic lefticular gibberish

hudson gets invoked along side the news
"conversion of tax revenue into interest payments"

property taxes ???
a struggle over the ground rent
the rest relies on poorly conveived notions of tax burden shifting

else where one can hardly
a priori
privilege interest forms of surplus extraction over raw corporate profit of enterprise forms eh ??

"Managerial devotion to maximizing share price"

now that looks in the right direction and
gets to the threshold

but what is the stock market ???
i see surplus as profits of enterprise
securitized here
but not converted to fire sector surplus


"Pretending it's esoteric and complex merely preserves the "expertise" angle"

i suppose at the level
where surplus is surplus
and so long as it exists its naughty
you grasp this oxy
very nice twin position
to your position on the state eh ???

beyond the ever salubrious effect
booing has on all solemn proceedings
you contribute ....nothing !!!!

a fart in church is funny
if you don't have to smell it too long


the politco link tells us where
the lobby meets the lawmakers

but where's the beef jay ??

this doesn't
take us down to the point of transfer
why is it GS not GM

why has the fire sector share in corporate profits balloooned these past 30 years ???

i mean really where's the gimmick
that "allows" these parasites on the parasites to take the lions sharre here
as in the notion contained in the money quote in the post
" siphoned off into the financial sector" ???

Dettman, you're a piece of work. I'm too into my Saturday night to spend more than on this, but your reaction is classic. Idiot. Google "corporate hoarding." Google "distribution of wealth." Fucking douche. Valorize that.

There's a reason nobody knew who Hudson was until CP picked him up. Dude's a Wall Street closet case, despite his ability to mention a large quantity of what matters. He can't explain it, though.

Dettman, you're a piece of work. I'm too into my Saturday night to spend more than on this, but your reaction is classic. Idiot. Google "corporate hoarding." Google "distribution of wealth." Fucking douche. Valorize that.

Clapham Gramophone Omnibus:

I have just discovered this wonderful website! The level of debate is most elevated and the vigour with which the various points made are expressed is thrilling. You sons of the colonists have made amazing progress. Keep it up!


clap curls one's hair with his irony eh ??
keep it up !!! clap

md leave poor dettman to his nerd-marxist delights

shaping and reshaping marx
in wrought iron
rube goldberg dogmatic configurations
is a hobby not a craft

op, it's more like this:

I'm playing 1st line midfield on a generally winning team. We're in the middle of a game against a tough bunch who pass well and hit like the late-70s Oakland Raiders defense. After a 3 goal lead in the first quarter, the opposition has drawn to a split at the half. That we're tied and not losing by a goal at the half is mostly thanks to a shot that our goalie stopped with his left elbow.

We have a problem with the 2d half resuming because the goalie's elbow is now inflamed and not working -- frozen with inflammation.

We're concerned about how we're going to stop goals in the 2d half, we don't have a 2d string goalie.

And here you come telling us that what will change the game is analyzing face-off tactics by looking at statistics.


this is not a job org site
or community org site

the class struggle has several levels
of activity
one level
produces flint 1937
another das capital 1867
there are levels in between
and below and above these two levels

if you are suggesting sites like this oughta be out numbered 100 to 1 by sites
"on the ground ..in the midst etc "
i'd agree whole heartedly
but one does what one can when and where
one can do it

of course coherence of all these levels

well that's gonna require
a complex organizational notion

and anarco nihilists direct actionists
are not down with big orgs eh ???


well now we've seen your hands

i guess i'll have to post up
a provisional response to my own question

So you're "informing" your readers on the highly useful utility's usefulness inherent in the useful approach of using an examination of 0.00000000000001% of economic "activity" to reform the remaining 99.99999999999999% of the system.

So, basically, you're saying this: the tail CAN wag the dog, if only we study Karl Marx.

It's not even funny.


that's just gibberish bluster and silliness

its simple enough to see
we'd be better off if we understood how we got to this lion's share of surplus fire sector
in barely more then 30 years

given the dramatic refutation
Clio gave us at the same time
of a bed rock facts
of classical reform social democracy

a)the national wage structures of industrial countries
rise in concert with productivity

b) the surplus share in output is stable

c) the middle income class
is an expanding share of the population

now if that isn't macro enough
for u then what is ???

we prolly all know
blithering nihilism
has its intellectual limitations oxy
u needn't reinforce the point
by embodying those limitations
quite so toonishly


Higher D/E ratios, the result of 25+ years of junk bonds and LBOs?


if we don't grasp the qualitative shift here
that occured in global capitalism
in the last 40 years then after this crisis
what do we get
well we get old remedy time
like new deal II

we get from the "serious left"
the recycled social market notions of 90 years ago
as fleshed out in the 40's and 50's
these led us to the present stage

the return to keynesian methods of the same era (40-50's )
without answers to the class impasse
these methods ran up against in the terrible 70's
an impasse that brought on ...not hyper social democracy
pension fund socialism or whatever
but inbstead spawned the present regime
which despite being today in crisis globally
and despite the post industrial wage class stuck in accelerating retrogression
the serious left is without
coherent popular front unifying
economic proposals
just warmed over 1965 or 1950

when clearly we neded the modern up date of
the arsenal of democracy
the green house of democracy
a totalization of the economy
regearing itself for a green planet

Op-san, I, for one, await your answer. What is Wall Street? How does the FIRE burn?

Do tell, not least because I'm trying to finish writing my book chapter on how the core, institutional pol-econ of big biz requires suppression of any serious talk about green regearing.

FIRE is not exactly of the essence there, but it demands a paragraph or two...

Henwood never really answered your question, and I can't get closer than saying Wall Street is the Executive Committee of the Executive Committee of the Ruling Class, the place where the capitalist singularity is meta-enforced.

You seem to be foreshadowing a point about the importance of institutional investors.

Are you thinking of contrasting our MC surrender of 401Kapital to FIREmen, as opposed to say the drowned Swedish Wager Earners Fund model?

Do tell...


Does the answer lie in economic bubbles?

The financial sector creates (exempli gratia) mortgage-backed securities, which they fraudulently promote and trade all the way up. Then, before the inevitable crash, they bet against the bubble they inflated and profit all the way down too.

In other words: Profits from increased productivity go into the bubble and they don't come out. The financial sector keeps them.

Oh jesus pancake-on-a-rabbit christ.

Church lady admires your polite put-downs, op.

You're still not even in the game. Good job doing statistical analysis of that 0.0000000001% of the data allegedly representing the game, though, bro-heem. Righteous even.


"Profits from increased productivity go into the bubble and they don't come out."

i like that image
if you generalize bubble
to include all the vast and intricate
hi fi shuffles
that rise like a pandemonium
out of our production platforms

taking on a dynamic all of their own

ultimately all this blood sucking hyperbole aside
the fire sector share in total corporate earnings only reflects the greater socialization of the economic system
as a totality
the greater interflow of funds
yes today under privateer control those intricacies allow all sorts of "surplus sumps"
that under prole state control
will be disolved into lower final prices
or tax appropriated

in the hegelian sense
that all that is deeply "real" today
is rational
all that is institutionalized
ie the FIRE sector
has at its conflicted core
a rational progressive aspect

within this pandemonium
one can glimpse the fleeting shadows
of our brighter future institutions

of ... what with blakean solipsism
i like to call
the system to be discoverd
the act of construct
in the next installment of the D of P


i love you as you iz
part of unexpected splendors
of post industrial life
like beautiful smog sunsets

never change or should
i say never wind down
since change
is prolly not in your soft ware

but please strike a few new notes eh ??
i know you got em in there somewhere

the nihilist
lover of life
in all its concrete ineffable splendor
though a clear c sharp in itself
needs some
if not harmonious
at least various tonal company

op, while you probably admire Joe Satriani or Yngwie Malmsteen, I prefer Neil Young or Frank Rizzo.

Technical fireworks are boring to everyone who knows that robotic displays of technique aren't evidence of passionate action.

Some day you'll probably explain how your electron-microscopy of "economics" actually bears some resemblance to life as I know it. Meanwhile you can congratulate yourself on being smarter than me, and denigrate me for being too dense to appreciate the theoretical constructs you insist are truly representative of life.


401k people's capitalism
is a nasty sublation of defined benefits
spells the end
corporate/union based welfarism
which was indeed a ponzi scheme

the corporate deacons
are shifting the whole burden
of job related corporate fringe benefits
to a fully socialized benefit system
the struggle in that sense
becomes both more universal
and more centralized
the outcome
the full payroll base of the system
becomes the source ofbenefit funding extractions

ala universal health

It isn't interest rates.

Managerial attentiveness to stock price is closer but not it either.

Rather, it is _____.

Is there a blank-filler from op-san on the essential factor in the ascendance of finance-as-power?

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