The Capitalism Portal
Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit. Central characteristics of capitalism include capital accumulation, competitive markets, a price system, private property and the recognition of property rights, voluntary exchange and wage labor. In a capitalist market economy, decision-making and investments are determined by every owner of wealth, property or production ability in capital and financial markets whereas prices and the distribution of goods and services are mainly determined by competition in goods and services markets.
Economists, historians, political economists and sociologists have adopted different perspectives in their analyses of capitalism and have recognized various forms of it in practice. These include laissez-faire or free-market capitalism, state capitalism and welfare capitalism. Different forms of capitalism feature varying degrees of free markets, public ownership, obstacles to free competition and state-sanctioned social policies. The degree of competition in markets and the role of intervention and regulation as well as the scope of state ownership vary across different models of capitalism. The extent to which different markets are free and the rules defining private property are matters of politics and policy. Most of the existing capitalist economies are mixed economies that combine elements of free markets with state intervention and in some cases economic planning.
Market economies have existed under many forms of government and in many different times, places and cultures. Modern capitalist societies—marked by a universalization of money-based social relations, a consistently large and system-wide class of workers who must work for wages (the proletariat) and a capitalist class which owns the means of production—developed in Western Europe in a process that led to the Industrial Revolution. Capitalist systems with varying degrees of direct government intervention have since become dominant in the Western world and continue to spread. Constant economic growth is a characteristic tendency of capitalist economies.
Critics of capitalism argue that it concentrates power in the hands of a minority capitalist class that exists through the exploitation of the majority working class and their labor; prioritizes profit over social good, natural resources and the environment; is an engine of inequality, corruption and economic instabilities; and that many are not able to access its purported benefits and freedoms, such as freely investing. Supporters argue that it provides better products and innovation through competition, promotes pluralism and decentralization of power, disperses wealth to people who are able to invest in useful enterprises based on market demands, allows for a flexible incentive system where efficiency and sustainability are priorities to protect capital, creates strong economic growth, and yields productivity and prosperity that greatly benefit society. (Full article...)
Towards the late 1970s, Hong Kong
became established as a major entrepôt between the world and China. The city has developed into a major global trade hub and financial centre, and is regarded as a world city and one of the eight Alpha+ cities. It ranked fifth on the 2014 Global Cities Index after New York City
. The city has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, and the most severe income inequality among the advanced economies. It has a high Human Development Index
and is ranked highly in the Global Competitiveness Report
. Hong Kong is the third most important financial centre after New York and London. The service economy, characterised by low taxation and free trade, has been regarded as one of the world's most laissez-faire economic policies, and the currency, the Hong Kong dollar, is the 13th most traded currency in the world. (Full article...
(18 April 1772 – 11 September 1823) was a British political economist
. He was one of the most influential of the classical economists, along with Thomas Malthus
, Adam Smith
, and James Mill
. Following his estrangement from his father he started a successful business as a broker
with the support of Lubbocks and Forster, an eminent banking house. Although already successful as a broker, he made the bulk of his fortune as a result of speculation on the outcome of the Battle of Waterloo
, using methods which today would result in prosecution for insider trading
and market manipulation
. Prior to the battle, Ricardo posted an observer to convey early results of the outcome. He then deliberately created the mistaken impression the French had won by initially openly selling British securities. A market panic ensued. Following this panic he moved to buy British securities at a steep discount. The Sunday Times reported in Ricardo’s obituary, published on 14 September 1823, that during the Battle of Waterloo Ricardo "netted upwards of a million sterling", a huge sum at the time. Following this trading coup, he retired. He purchased Gatcombe Park
, an estate in Gloucestershire
, now owned by Princess Anne
, the Princess Royal. He was appointed High Sheriff of Gloucestershire
Some years into retirement Ricardo became keen to enter Parliament and in August 1818 he secured Lord Portarlington’s borough for £4,000, as part of the terms of a loan of £25,000. As a result, Ricardo entered the House of Commons, representing Portarlington, an Irish rotten borough. He was 47 years of age. His record in Parliament was that of an earnest reformer. He held the seat until his death four years later.
Ricardo argued that there is mutual national benefit from trade even if one country is more competitive in every area than its trading counterpart and that a nation should concentrate resources only on industries where it had a comparative advantage, that is in those industries in which it has the greatest competitive edge. Ricardo suggested that national industries which were, in fact, profitable and internationally competitive should be jettisoned in favour of the most competitive industries. Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage assumes the existence of an industry and trade policy at a national level. Although he did not presume here that business decisions are or should be made independently by entrepreneurs on the basis of viability or profit, he knew that merchants engage only if it is profitable for them to do so. (Full article...)
||And the same is true of the most fateful force in our modern life, capitalism. The impulse to acquisition, pursuit of gain, of money, of the greatest possible amount of money, has in itself nothing to do with capitalism. This impulse exists and has existed among waiters, physicians, coachmen, artists, prostitutes, dishonest officials, soldiers, nobles, crusaders, gamblers, and beggars. One may say that it has been common to all sorts and conditions of men at all times and in all countries of the earth, wherever the objective possibility of it is or has been given. It should be taught in the kindergarten of cultural history that this naive idea of capitalism must be given up once and for all. Unlimited greed for gain is not it the least identical with capitalism, and is still less its spirit. Capitalism may even be identical with the restraint, or at least a rational tempering, of this irrational impulse. But capitalism is identical with the pursuit of profit, and forever renewed profit, by means of continuous, rational, capitalistic enterprise. For it must be so: in a wholly capitalistic order of society, an individual capitalistic enterprise which did not take advantage of its opportunities for profit-making would be doomed to extinction.
||— Max Weber (1864 – 1920)|
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism , 1905
The following are images from various capitalism-related articles on Wikipedia.
Decaying hedges mark the lines of the straight field boundaries created by a Parliamentary Act of Enclosure.
The gold standard formed the financial basis of the international economy from 1870 to 1914.
An industrial worker among heavy steel machine parts (Kinex Bearings, Bytča, Slovakia, c. 1995–2000)
A painting of a French seaport from 1638 at the height of mercantilism
The shipyard of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in Amsterdam (1726 engraving by Joseph Mulder). The shipbuilding district of Zaan, near Amsterdam, became one of the world's earliest known industrialized areas, with around 900 wind-powered sawmills at the end of the 17th century. By the early 17th century Dutch shipyards were producing a large number of ships to a standard design, allowing extensive division of labour, a specialization which further reduced unit costs.
The price P of a product is determined by a balance between production at each price (supply S) and the desires of those with purchasing power at each price (demand D): the diagram shows a positive shift in demand from D1 to D2, resulting in an increase in price (P) and quantity sold (Q) of the product
Gustave Doré's 19th-century engraving depicted the dirty, overcrowded slums where the industrial workers of London lived.
Map of a medieval manor. Notice the large commons area and the division of land into small strips. The mustard-colored areas are part of the demesne, the hatched areas part of the glebe.
William R. Shepherd, Historical Atlas, 01923
The Anglo-Dutch Wars were fought between the English and the Dutch for control over the seas and trade routes.
The gold standard formed the financial basis of the international economy from 1870 to 1914
British East India Company 1801
A painting of a French seaport from 1638, at the height of mercantilism.
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