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Financialization, Household Credit and Economic Slowdown in the U.S.

Three important features of the U.S. economy during the neoliberal era since the mid-1970s have been: (a) growing financialization, (b) increasing household debt, and (c) stagnant real wages for production and non-supervisory workers. This paper develops a discrete-time Marxian circuit of capital model to analyze the links between these three features and economic slowdown. The discrete-time model is used to address two important theoretical issues of general interest to the heterodox economic tradition: profit-led versus wage-led growth, and the growth-reducing impact of non-production credit. First, it is demonstrated that both profit-led and wage-led growth regimes can be accommodated within the Marxian circuit of capital model. Second, it is demonstrated that the steady-state growth rate of a capitalist economy is negatively related to the share of consumption credit in total net credit, when the total credit is large to begin with. Bringing these two results together, the paper demonstrates that the three characteristics of the U.S economy under neoliberalism can have a growth-reducing impact on a capitalist economy. Hence, this paper offers a novel explanation, rooted in Marx

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