Hilferding on speculation and derivatives

Sotiropoulos, Dimitris P. (2012). Hilferding on speculation and derivatives. In: The 16th Annual Conference of the European Society for the History of Economic Thought (ESHET): Institutions and Values in Economic Thought, 17-19 May 2012, Saint Petersburg, Russia..

URL: http://eshet.leontief-centre.ru/content1


Rudolf Hilferding has always been regarded as a leading Marxist scholar. His theoretical intervention is still considered as benchmark in the discussions in political economy. Nevertheless, Hilferding's approach to derivatives has been left untouched. The aim of this paper is to fill exactly this gap in literature. Hilferding realized that the development of the stock exchange was indeed parallel to another important development: that of the 'commodity exchange'. This idea led him to emphasize the standardized derivative contracts. In this fashion, he understood the economic significance that derivatives markets have for the organization of capitalism and made an effort to shed light in their workings. In spite of how one appraises the final outcome of his analysis, the intention to incorporate the futures market in his general approach and analyze them using Marxian theoretical categories is quite exception in the long tradition of political economy. He also ends up apprehending derivatives as the new form of money which could become redundant only by the formation of monopoly combines. From this point of view, his analysis is indeed a forerunner of many contemporary approaches.

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