Notes on the Regulation of Capitalism

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Regulation #43: On Productivity

Michel Bauwens, reading notes from 2004:

- Is productivity still a relevant concept in the current economic regime ?

No, says J. Gadfrey, it is a fordist notion. Yes, says Pascal Petit, each regime has its own form.

But what is the new regime then ? According to Aglietta, it is financialization, but according to Boyer, its the new activities in health and education, centered around the process of self-realization; according to Petit, "c'est le meilleur encastrement social des rapports marchands".

In the Fordist era, productivity was useful as a management tool (micro-economy), and it was a central macro-economic goal of economic policy. Crucially, gains in the key industrial sectors where it could easily be measured, such as for automobiles, would determine the salary increases, which would then percolate throughout the economy. But since the eighties, this model is in crisis.

Amongst the noticeable changes are:

   - 1) the outsourcing of many activities
   - 2) increased cooperative arrangements between firms
   - 3) internally, quality and service become more important than mere production.
   - 4) a key factor  became short-term profitability, which is not so easily related to classic productivity measures

Let's also look at the macro-economic changes:

   - 1) internationalization makes it difficult to identity national gains
   - 2) the financialization has led to an increased importance of rents, which leads to a focus on financial, technological, and IP-related opportunities

Products now improve mostly qualitatively, and by acquiring a adaptability and versatility, which requires attention to consumer evolution. The latter is more a evolution of forms of being, rather than of having.

Regulation #46: American Empire


Bibliographic source unknown. My reading diary mentions "Regulation #43" and "Regulation #46"; no trace of this via search engines.