Re: [OPE-L] US Capital Exports in 2007

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Sat Oct 20 2007 - 07:37:05 EDT

> Changes in US private assets abroad (Seasonally Adjusted)

Thaks to Scott Palmer for calling our attention to the recent US Bureau of
Economic Analysis <> statistics.  Capital exports (in, for
example, Lenin's understanding of the expression) aren't the same thing as
changes in assets abroad held by citizens from an imperialist nation,
though.  There are at least a couple of conceptual issues here:

1) how is "capital" defined and measured by the BEA.

2) private assets abroad is not the same thing as capital exported:
(unless I am mistaken) it could refer partially to a change in _ownership_
of assets rather than the _export_ of assets (for instance - a
hypothetical example - if investors from the US bought land in Brazil
wouldn't that count as "US private assets abroad" even though it clearly
wouldn't constitute the export of constant capital?).

The other question that I would have as to the interpretation of the
meaning of these numbers is whether the change in ownership of assets is
an attempt by investors to hedge their risks by investing a greater
proportion of their monies abroad. This might be considered to be
'rational' behavior if, for instance, they expected a downturn in the US
economy to occur  at a greater rate than in another country or countries
(or region or regions) of the world capitalist economy.

No doubt, "outsourcing" is an issue as well, but outsourcing is more
complex than is commonly supposed.  I.e. while it is commonly thought that
outsoucing is driven by a quest for lower wages and benefits (i.e. a lower
cost for labour power), other factors such as regulatory and tax issues
are relevant as is the "political climate" for investment.  An
underappreciated factor is state trade policy: many countries have told
foreign based corporations that if they want to sell in their markets that
they have to produce in their markets and this then means that there must
either be new production facilities opened in those nations (or domestic
producers bought out and a merger occurs) or those corporations have to
forego the possibility of selling commodities in those markets.

In solidarity, Jerry

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Oct 31 2007 - 00:00:19 EDT