Monday column

Grow and Die

“Grow or die” is one of the corporate mantras of the late 20th century. The peculiar shape that corporations now take, courtesy of the perversion of capitalism that is modern finance-driven corporatism, requires constant growth. Rather like great white sharks, which must keep swimming to avoid suffocation, modern corporations have had to keep growing to avoid seeing their stock prices punished by an increasingly avaricious Wall Street.

From 1948 to 1985, the financial sector accounted for around 12 percent of American corporate profits, never reaching 20 percent nor dipping below 5 percent. After 1985, however, the profits of the sector rose dramatically, going from 19 percent in 1986 to 41 percent in 2000. That meant that more than 40 cents out of every corporate dollar of profit was paper profit, not generated by actual wealth-generating activity, but by monetary inflation and corporate gambling….