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. Capitalism has been shown to be strongly correlated with economic growth.
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...
(November 25, 1835 – August 11, 1919) was a Scottish
industrialist who led the enormous expansion of the American steel industry
in the late 19th century. He built a leadership role as a philanthropist
for the United States
and the British Empire
. During the last 18 years of his life, he gave away to charities, foundations, and universities about $350 million (in 2015 share of GDP, $78.6 billion) – almost 90 percent of his fortune. His 1889 article proclaiming "The Gospel of Wealth
" called on the rich to use their wealth to improve society, and it stimulated a wave of philanthropy.
Carnegie was born in Dunfermline, Scotland, and emigrated to the United States with his very poor parents in 1848. Carnegie started work as a telegrapher and by the 1860s had investments in railroads, railroad sleeping cars, bridges and oil derricks. He accumulated further wealth as a bond salesman raising money for American enterprise in Europe. He built Pittsburgh's Carnegie Steel Company, which he sold to J.P. Morgan in 1901 for $480 million (2015 per share of GDP, $370 billion), creating the U.S. Steel Corporation. Carnegie devoted the remainder of his life to large-scale philanthropy, with special emphasis on local libraries, world peace, education and scientific research. With the fortune he made from business, he built Carnegie Hall and he founded the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Carnegie Institution for Science, Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, Carnegie Hero Fund, Carnegie Mellon University and the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, among others. (Full article...)
||A revolution of the greatest importance to the public happiness was in this manner brought about by two different orders of people who had not the least intention to serve the public. To gratify the most childish vanity was the sole motive of the great proprietors. The merchants and artificers, much less ridiculous, acted merely from a view to their own interest, and in pursuit of their own pedlar principle of turning a penny wherever a penny was to be got. Neither of them had either knowledge or foresight of that great revolution which the folly of the one, and the industry of the other, was gradually bringing about.
It is thus that through the greater part of Europe the commerce and manufactures of cities, instead of being the effect, have been the cause and occasion of the improvement and cultivation of the country.
||— Adam Smith (1723 – 1790)|
The Wealth of Nations , 1776
The following are images from various capitalism-related articles on Wikipedia.
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.
Capitalism and the economy of the People's Republic of China
A painting of a French seaport from 1638 at the height of mercantilism
The gold standard formed the financial basis of the international economy from 1870 to 1914
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
World's GDP per capita shows exponential growth since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution
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.
Girl pulling a coal tub in mine, from official report of the British parliamentary commission in the mid 19th century
The Anglo-Dutch Wars were fought between the English and the Dutch for control over the seas and trade routes.
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.
British East India Company 1801
The gold standard formed the financial basis of the international economy from 1870 to 1914.
Decaying hedges mark the lines of the straight field boundaries created by a Parliamentary Act of Enclosure.
Did you know