“Half-assed” capitalism

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Teaching financial education to people is democratizing. It rather proposes a systemic re-evolution, to go beyond the capitalist system, gradually and democratically, with a more socially egalitarian goal


The community economies collective seeks to highlight the variety of transactions, forms of work, class relations, types of companies and ecological relationships possible given the dynamics of development in contemporary economies. What is generally considered “the economy” boils down to wage labor, market trade of goods, and capitalist enterprise.

The capitalist system involves ordinary people in the practice of “making savings”. They aim to “save”, to accumulate financial reserves, in order to face possible accidents along the way and maintain a standard of living in retirement.

Teaching financial education to people is democratizing. It rather proposes a systemic re-evolution, to go beyond the capitalist system, gradually and democratically, with a more socially egalitarian goal.

Questioning “capital-centrism” and including workers means removing the risk of society’s embedding in the market or “market disembedding” to Karl Polanyi. A representation of the economy as essentially capitalist depends on the exclusion of many workers from the possibility of enrichment.

Those interested in the social economy and its “alternative” social entrepreneurs, networks and economic organizations are political economists. They carry out an economic analysis to observe the surplus extracted from different activities, managed not only by capitalist companies, but also by family and cooperatives.

The ties economy, also known as the reciprocity economy, refers to an economic system where transactions are based on social relationships, such as kinship, friendship, neighborhood, or community affiliation, rather than purely market transactions. People exchange goods and services based on social ties and cultural norms rather than market prices. It survives on a local level, but not on a global and anonymous scale.

Trust and cooperation play fundamental roles in this type of economy, where personal relationships are as important as the economic transactions themselves. The tie economy is commonly observed in primitive communities, but could hypothetically be found in more modern urban contexts, especially in social and community networks.

One question is whether virtual social networks – and not face-to-face – provide bonds of affection. It is often seen that ideological affinity does not correspond to a friendly nature in the relationship, due to the narcissist privileging his “public image” as an aggressive speaker. But it is simply one more anonymous…


The preoccupation with being grandiose, exhibitionism, the feeling of indifference towards others, the absence of empathy and the inability to relate are defining aspects of narcissism. Individualism reigns.

It is the tendency, the attitude of those who live exclusively for themselves, showing little or no solidarity. Selfishness and egocentrism prevail as a moral, economic or political doctrine, in a mass society in a social network.

Neoliberals adopt it, allied with neofascists, by valuing, above all, individual autonomy in the search for freedom and satisfaction of violent natural inclinations. They want “freedom of expression” to attack their opponents!

It is necessary to question, including from an economic point of view, this doctrine in which the motto of Integralism – “God, Country and Family” above all (and everyone) – is of fascist origin. It aims to preserve clan and family dynasty for itself.

In the opposite sense, the impersonality of money, for fair payment of salaried work, is an improvement in the face of favoritism or nepotism. To avoid anomie with loss of identity, it is important to link people to social life.

For example, the practice of association in entrepreneurship, where partners obtain equity participation, has its roots in a commercial association. Traders began to come together to finance and carry out overseas commercial expeditions.

The East India Company, founded in 1602 in the Netherlands, allowed “bourgeois” (city dwellers) to become shareholders. They invested capital in exchange for profit sharing and control over the public company. Many colonial enterprises were financed by shareholders. They took the risk of failure in exchange for profit sharing and decision-making power.

The modernization of commercial legislation, including the Corporations Law, helped to formalize and standardize the practice of association in enterprises. The Antwerp Stock Exchange, created in 1531, in Belgium, was the first stock exchange.

The stock exchange provides an environment where company shares are traded freely among investors. It further encourages the formation of publicly-held companies, where entrepreneurs raise capital by selling shareholdings to the interested public.

In the 20th and 21st centuries, the rise of modern capitalism with financial globalization has led to the proliferation of publicly traded companies around the world. Entrepreneurs across a wide range of industries, from technology to manufacturing, continue to use the practice to finance and expand their businesses.


Why did the stock market not become popular in Brazil? The Stock Exchange here originated in 1890, with its foundation in Rio de Janeiro, not coincidentally two years after the late extinction of slavery. The one in São Paulo was created in the same year.

If dynastic families did not have so much power, delaying agrarian reform for the benefit of freed slaves (and their descendants) and higher education for urban workers, would there not be a greater possibility of social mobility?

With a better distribution of income and wealth, the development of a capital market economy in Brazil could have occurred to American. It would have several positive impacts on the Brazilian economy, providing greater access to capital, via Initial Public Offerings (IPOs), and subsequent financial leverage.

A developed capital market would provide more financing options for companies, allowing them to raise capital through the issuance of shares and direct debt securities (debentures). It could have stimulated economic growth and innovation, because companies would have more resources to invest in expansion and technological Research & Development.

It would offer a viable alternative to bank financing, reducing companies' dependence on expensive debt with banks. It would allow investors to buy and sell shares easily, reflecting information and expectations from market participants, with capital flowing to the most productive and promising sectors and companies.

It could attract foreign investors looking for investment opportunities in emerging economies. Foreign capital inflows into the country would strengthen the foreign exchange market, increase the liquidity of local financial markets, and perhaps even integrate the country into global value chains.

The growth of the derivatives market would offer financial instruments for risk management, such as futures, options and swaps. It would help companies and investors protect themselves against price fluctuations and financial volatility.

Obviously, there would be a need for adequate regulation, transparency and protection for small investors. Without a doubt, the beneficial process of popular “financialization” (much worse without it, as occurs in Argentina) would take time and require investments in infrastructure and professional training.

The hypothesis raised here leads us to review concepts and question ideological dogmas, permeated in left-wing minds. Worse, faced with a capitalist system, it is blocked in its evolution to achieve a future system with less poverty.

Without a doubt, it is uneven and combined. But “let’s combine”: the standard of living with the massification of quality technical and higher education, the “financialization” of popular savings and the internationalization of the economy to Asian Tigers could reduce poverty, although it will not eliminate inequality. Clearly, it will require an active social policy with universal basic income.

Fernando Nogueira da Costa He is a full professor at the Institute of Economics at Unicamp. Author, among other books, of Brazil of banks (EDUSP). [https://amzn.to/3r9xVNh]

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