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Financialization and Militarization: An Empirical Investigation

U.S. Military Spending and Financialization

Pelin Akçagün and Adem Yavuz Elveren investigate whether military spending and financialization have been mutually reinforcing in the U.S. economy over 1949 – 2019. They find that the relationship has been significant throughout this full period. Military spending during the 1950s and 1960s, along with other external stimuli, such as a rising sales effort and expansion in finance, insurance, and real estate, counteracted the stagnation of the monopolistic stage of capitalism. Monopoly capital was then transformed into finance monopoly capital as financialization intensified during the late 1970s in response to stagnation.

Abstract

Based on Arrighi (1994), we empirically investigate whether financialization and militarization are mutually reinforcing phenomena in the U.S. during the post-WW II period. Military spending during the 1950s and 1960s in the U.S., along with other external stimuli, such as a rising sales effort and expansion in finance, insurance, and real estate, counteracted the stagnation of the monopolistic stage of capitalism. Monopoly capital was transformed into finance monopoly capital as the intensity of financial capital increased during the late 1970s in response to stagnation. Considering alternative financialization variables commonly used in the literature and the profit rate in the financial sector, and using several parametric and non-parametric methods, we found a significant relationship between financialization and militarization in the U.S. for 1949-2019. The findings show that the decline in the profit rates lead to a decline in military expenditure. The overall results suggest that the rise in financialization is parallel to the decline in the profit rates, leading to larger military expenditure in total, but with relatively smaller share in GDP.

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