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Portal:Capitalism

The Capitalism Portal

Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit. Central characteristics of capitalism include capital accumulation, competitive markets, price system, private property, property rights recognition, voluntary exchange, and wage labor. In a market economy, decision-making and investments are determined by owners of wealth, property, or ability to maneuver capital or production ability in capital and financial markets—whereas prices and the distribution of goods and services are mainly determined by competition in goods and services markets.

Economists, historians, political economists and sociologists have adopted different perspectives in their analyses of capitalism and have recognized various forms of it in practice. These include laissez-faire or free-market capitalism, anarcho-capitalism, state capitalism and welfare capitalism. Different forms of capitalism feature varying degrees of free markets, public ownership, obstacles to free competition and state-sanctioned social policies. The degree of competition in markets and the role of intervention and regulation as well as the scope of state ownership vary across different models of capitalism. The extent to which different markets are free and the rules defining private property are matters of politics and policy. Most of the existing capitalist economies are mixed economies that combine elements of free markets with state intervention and in some cases economic planning.

Market economies have existed under many forms of government and in many different times, places and cultures. Modern capitalist societies developed in Western Europe in a process that led to the Industrial Revolution. Capitalist systems with varying degrees of direct government intervention have since become dominant in the Western world and continue to spread. Economic growth is a characteristic tendency of capitalist economies. (Full article...)

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Norwich Market from Gentlemans Walk.jpg
Norwich Market (also known as Norwich Provision Market) is an outdoor market consisting of around 200 stalls in central Norwich, England. Founded in the latter part of the 11th century to supply Norman merchants and settlers moving to the area following the Norman conquest of England, it replaced an earlier market a short distance away. It has been in operation on the present site for over 900 years.

By the 14th century, Norwich was one of the largest and most prosperous cities in England, and Norwich Market was a major trading hub. Control of, and income from, the market was ceded by the monarchy to the city of Norwich in 1341, from which time it provided a significant source of income for the local council. Freed from royal control, the market was reorganised to benefit the city as much as possible. Norwich and the surrounding region were devastated by plague and famine in the latter half of the 14th century, with the population falling by over 50%. Following the plague years, Norwich came under the control of local merchants and the economy was rebuilt. In the early 15th century, a Guildhall was built next to the market to serve as a centre for local government and law enforcement. The largest surviving mediaeval civic building in Britain outside London, it remained the seat of local government until 1938 and in use as a law court until 1985. (Full article...)

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Thomas Sowell cropped.jpg
Thomas Sowell (born June 30, 1930) is an American economist, social theorist, political philosopher, and author.

He is currently Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. Sowell was born in North Carolina, but grew up in Harlem, New York. He dropped out of high school and served in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War. He received a bachelor's degree, graduating magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1958 and a master's degree from Columbia University in 1959. In 1968, he earned his Doctorate in Economics from the University of Chicago.

Sowell has served on the faculties of several universities, including Cornell University and University of California, Los Angeles. He has also worked for think tanks such as the Urban Institute. Since 1980, he has worked at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He writes from a libertarian conservative perspective, advocating supply-side economics. Sowell has written more than thirty books (a number of which have been reprinted in revised editions), and his work has been widely anthologized. He is a National Humanities Medal recipient. (Full article...)

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Now the remarkable fact is not how much the government does to control economic activity-tariff legislation, pure-food laws, utility and railroad regulations, minimum-wage regulations, fair-labor-practive acts, social security, price ceilings and floors, public works, national defense, national and local taxation, police protection and judicial redress, zoning ordinances, municipal water or gas works, etc.-but how much it does not do, even in time of war when controls multiply. Hundreds of thousands of commodities are produced by millions of people more or less at their own volition without central direction or master plan.

In a system of free enterprise no individual or organization is consciously concerned with the triad of economic problems discussed in Chap. 2. This is really remarkable. To paraphrase a famous economic example, consider the city of New York. Without a constant flow of goods in and out of the city, in a week it would be on the verge of starvation. More than a variety of right kinds and amounts of food is involved; from the surrounding hinterland, from 48 states, and form the far corners of the world, goods have been travelling for days and months with New York City as their destination. All this is undertaken without coercion or centralized direction by any conscious body!

How is it that 7 million people are able to sleep easy at night without living in mortal terror of a breakdown in the elaborate economic processes upon which the city's existence depends?

This alone is convincing proof that a competitive system of markets and prices-whatever else it may be, however imperfectly it may function-is not a system of chaos and anarchy. There is in it a certain order and orderliness. It works. It functions. Without intelligence it solves one of the most complex problems imaginable, involving thousands of unknown variables and relations. Nobody designed it. Like Topsy it just grew, and like human nature, it is changing; but at least it meets the first test of any social organization-it is changing; but at least it meets the first test of any social organization-it is able to survive.

— Paul Samuelson (1915 – 2009)
Economics: The Original 1948 Edition

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Capitalism .. Private property .. Capitalist mode of production .. Laissez-faire .. Ludwig Von Mises .. Murray N. Rothbard .. Economic freedom .. Adam Smith .. Money .. Ronald Reagan .. American capitalism .. Criticisms of socialism .. Patent .. The Wealth of Nations .. Corporate capitalism .. Democratic capitalism .. Milton Friedman

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