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Structural Changes and Dominance of Finance in Contemporary Capitalism


Structural changes in economies as have taken place in in majority of economies in terms of the sector-wise contribution to their aggregate output as well as employment include a rising share of the services sector, often exceeding one-half of the GDP.  Services include, in addition to other activities, the high value financial activities, having weights disproportionately large. Thus the rising share of services to the GDP implies simultaneous rise in share of financial activities to the GDP as well. Analyses in literature explain structural changes by relative profitability as prime mover of changes, similar to financialisation of economies. In this a circuitous link between socio- political and economic-forces and the changing weight (power relations) can be observed. With capitalism taking a multi-layered structure, the path of finance to dominance may be along a variety of trajectories including vertical shifts from real to financial activities. The quantitative strength of finance is reinforced by socio political forces as alliances. The path may face a crisis led by fundamental uncertainty where agents are ignorant of the future, and the path keeps changing by actions of agents themselves. With knowledge unattainable, ‘conventions’ help agents, as Keynes held, the calming of nerves, forming collectively a “conventional process of expectation formation”. This forms a major theoretical innovation of Keynes which brings in expectation formation and decision making by agents based on custom, habit, tradition, instinct as relevant in a model of human agency faced with fundamental uncertainty.

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