chapter  5
27 Pages

INVESTMENT, GROWTH, AND INSTABILITY: OLIGOPOLY AND THE PURSUIT OF PROSPERITY, 1900-1929

Over time, the interplay between accumulation and monopolization has produced an economy dominated by giant business firms-in manufacturing and mining, banking and insurance, transportation and regulated public utilities. Rooted in these sectors of the economy, the corporate business share of national income reached 53 percent in 1929, and it has continued to rise, past 59 percent in the late 1980s.1 This increase has been accompanied, and promoted, by a shift in aggregate saving from private households and small firms toward the large corporation, mainly in the form of retained earnings but also depreciation allowances and employee contributions to company pension funds. Corporate retained earnings alone have risen steadily as a part of private sector income, from about 6 percent in the 1920s to 12 percent in the 1980s.2 These are clear indications of the growth of corporate control over income generation. The means for preserving such control-increases in profits and in corporate saving-both flow out of successful investment.