Financialization in Swedish Capitalism : Debt, inequality and crisis in Sweden, 1900-2013

Sammanfattning: This dissertation adresses financialization – the increasing role of financial activities in the overall economy – in Sweden in 1900-2013. The focus is on the long run relationships between private debt, asset markets, inequality and financial crisis during this period. In line with established scholarship, the present study finds that changes in bank debt had a positive impact on the probability of financial crisis in Sweden. Functional income distribution between profits and wages was an underlying factor influencing the formation of bank debt levels through its impact on collateral in stock markets. Expenses related to the Swedish welfare state – the size of the public sector, government investment and housing construction – had a long run relationship with the wage share. The welfare state has been an effective counter-measure not just against a high profit share, but also against financialization. Moreover, the dissertation shows that the recent era of financialization in Swedish capitalism is not unique in kind. Rather, recent financialization is very similar to the macroeconomic situation during the early decades of the 20th Century. These findings are consistent with much of heterodox economic theory, in particular the Neo-Marxist approach. 

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