Productive Stagnation and Unproductive Accumulation: An Econometric Analysis of the United States

In this paper I evaluate the dynamic interactions between productive and unproductive forms of capital accumulation in the United States economy from 1947 to 2011. I employ time series econometrics to formally assess two questions that other scholars have hitherto considered mostly through verbal or descriptive approaches. First, I check whether unproductive accumulation hinders or fosters productive accumulation. Second, I check whether or not productive stagnation leads to faster unproductive accumulation. In my empirical tests I evaluate short-run effects using the vector auto-regression framework and long-run effects using cointegration analysis in a vector error correction model. I introduce different measures of productive and unproductive forms of capital accumulation using a new methodology to estimate Marxist categories from conventional input-output matrices, national income and product accounts, and fixed assets accounts.

A core feature of my methodology is the notion that the production of knowledge and information is also a form of unproductive activity.

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