Almost all economists, whether classical, neoclassical or Marxist, have failed in their analyses of capitalism to consider the underpinning systems of accounting. This book draws attention to this lacuna, focusing specifically on the concept of capital: a major concept that dominates all teaching and practice in both economics and management.
It is argued that while for the practitioners of capitalism – in accounting and business – the capital in their accounts is a debt to be repaid (or a thing to be kept), for economists, it has been considered a means (or even a resource or an asset) intended to be worn out. This category error has led to economists failing to comprehend the true nature of capitalism. On this basis, this book proposes a new definition of capitalism that brings about considerable changes in the attitude to be had towards this economic system, in particular, the means to bring about its replacement.
This book will be of significant interest to readers of political economy, history of economic thought, critical accounting and heterodox economics.
Table of Contents
Foreword: Capital and social costs as outcomes of struggles with truth
PART I The battle about the concept of capital
1 How a capitalist accounting constitution dominates the world economy
2 The difficulty of economists in understanding the concept of capital in accounting
3 The truth about the concept of capital in accounting
4 The victory of the capital–debt conception in accounting
5 The mystery of the misconception of business capital in economics
6 Two false friends of the capital–debt concept
Pacioli and Fisher
Conclusion of Part I: Two conflicting accounting models of capital
PART II Economists and their concepts of capital
7 The traditional classification of economists in materialist and fundist views
8 Proposal for a new classification of the conceptions of capital in economics
9 The issue of human capital
Conclusion of Part II
PART III Towards a new definition of capitalism
10 Private property as an element (or not) of capitalism
11 Markets as elements (or not) of capitalism
12 The role of money and finance in capitalism
13 Is the separation of capitalist and household production a criterion for capitalism?
14 Is the wage system an element of the definition of capitalism?
15 The nature and reality of capitalist power: The issue of managerialism
Conclusion of Part III and the first volume: A new definition of modern capitalism
Jacques Richard is Emeritus Professor at the University of Paris Dauphine, France. He is also an ex-Chartered Accountant and Counsellor of Trade Unions and ex-Member of the Authority of Accounting Standards (Paris). In 2013, he received the "Best Manuscript Award" from the Academy of Accounting Historians.
Alexandre Rambaud is Doctor of Mathematics and Management Sciences, and maître de conférences at AgroParisTech – CIRED. He is also Associate Researcher at the University of Paris Dauphine, France, and co-head of the Chaire Comptabilité Ecologique.