Public Debt as Corporate Power: Mapping the New Aristocracy of Finance

Public Debt as Corporate Power: Mapping the New Aristocracy of Finance
Hager, Sandy Brian. (2015). Working Papers on Capital as Power. No. 2015/01. January. pp. 1-24. (Article - Working Paper; English).


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Abstract or Brief Description

In various writings Karl Marx made references to an ‘aristocracy of finance’ in Western Europe and the United States that dominated ownership of the public debt. Drawing on original research, this paper offers the first comprehensive analysis of the pattern of public debt ownership within the US corporate sector. The research shows that over the past three decades, and especially in the context of the current crisis, a new ‘aristocracy of finance’ has emerged, as corporate holdings of the public debt have become rapidly concentrated in favor of large corporations classified within Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE). Drawing on Wolfgang Streeck’s concept of the ‘debt state’, the paper goes on to demonstrate how concentration in ownership of the public debt reinforces patterns of social inequality and proceeds in tandem with a shift in government policy, one that prioritizes the interests of government bondholders over the general citizenry.



Publication Type

Article - Working Paper


aristocracy of finance corporate power public debt United States


BN Money & Finance
BN Power
BN Policy
BN Region - North America
BN State & Government
BN Capital & Accumulation
BN Distribution
BN Institutions

Depositing User

Jonathan Nitzan

Date Deposited

04 Feb 2015 20:51

Last Modified

04 Jul 2016 17:55


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