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Neoliberal Entrenchment of North Atlantic Capital. From Corporate Self-Regulation to State Capture

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After the financial crisis of 2007–8, neoliberal capitalism by all appearances has entrenched instead of being displaced. Its political–economic programme or ‘comprehensive concept of control’ continues to hold society in thrall. This was different in the crisis of 1974–5 when the corporate liberalism of the postwar years and its industry-centred class compromise were beginning to be replaced by finance-led neoliberalism and a compromise with asset-owning middle classes. Under corporate liberalism, real capital accumulation was protected from the ‘rentier’/‘money-dealing’ fraction of capital associated with speculative investment; neoliberalism has allowed its resurgence. Large corporations in the first phase of the transition (‘systemic neoliberalism’) embarked on a strategy of transnational restructuring no longer dependent on 1960s-style state support. In the process, financial group formation, here measured by dense director interlocks (≥2) amongst the largest corporations in the North Atlantic economy (where this type of corporate governance obtains), was intensified. The resurgence of money-dealing capital and rentier incomes in the 1990s led to a decline in real accumulation (‘predatory neoliberalism’), and after the crisis of 2007–8, to a demise of the financial group structure of Atlantic capital as the network of dense interlocks radically thins out and capital comes to rely on states again, this time to protect it from a democratic correction of the neoliberal regime and with state autonomy greatly reduced by public debt.
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Keywords: corporate governance; crisis; director interlocks; neoliberalism; state capture

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Vrijzicht 125, 1068CH, Amsterdam, Netherlands 2: Department of International Business and Economics, QM258 Business School, University of Greenwich, Maritime Campus, Park Row, London, SE109LS, UK

Publication date: July 4, 2015

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