By Maurice Dobb
A learn of capitalism and the way it got here into being.
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Extra resources for Capitalism Yesterday and Today
Foreign investment was not, of course, anything new. In the case of Britain, foreign issues had figured quite largely on the London capital market earlier in the 19th century, being sponsored by the large 'merchant bank- ers' of the City which specialised in this line of business. These foreign issues were largely government or gov- ernment-sponsored loans; and although creditors like Rothschilds doubtless imposed conditions upon the bor- rowers, such loans did not involve direct exploitation and control.
This is of course a matter of degree and need not be absolute to be economically important. If a capitalist firm is sufficiently large for its output-policy to exert a signifi- cant effect on the market-situation and hence on the market-price, it may operate a considerable degree of monopoly-power, even though the number of other (small) firms competing with it in the same line of busi- ness is quite large. While domination of the market is the criterion of monopoly-power, this of itself is no more than the means, the instrument, whereby the ultimate aims of monopoly are pursued.
Free trade and free competition were the watchwords of the hour, and each businessman knew that if he was not on his toes, con- stantly finding means to cheapen his product, he would be shouldered out of the market by his competitors. Innovation thus became the key to success. Capital was accumulated in order to provide the wherewithal to in- novate; and at the same time innovations in technique afforded a field and outlet for capital, even when capital was accumulating faster than the supply of wage-labour grew (as it tended to do).