Pricing Progress: How Economic Indicators Shaped American Capitalism

  mainstream economics in the past 200 years has a completely different feature from classical economics, that is, it has systematic economic indicators. , which is also a sign of the progress of economics research and promotes the widespread application of mathematics and statistics in this field. The United States has made a major contribution to this. The well-known GDP (gross domestic product) is an invention of the American economics community.
  The development from basically no statistical data to an economic indicator system with GDP as the core is not a simple process of formula derivation. It is accompanied by profound changes in society, politics, economy and culture.
  ”Pricing Progress” by American economic historian Eli Cook takes the emergence and evolution of various economic indicators in American history, the emergence of capital society, and their main role in the development process as the main line, reviewing the evolution from moral statistics to The process of all pricing records the history of American economic and capitalist development from a unique perspective.
Social changes behind economic indicators

  This is a history of the evolution of U.S. economic indicators and the history of U.S. economic development. The author believes that although markets, commodities and consumer goods are all necessary components of capitalism, they do not necessarily create a capitalist society. Using the United States as an example, the author points out that economic indicators drove the emergence of capitalism.
  As mentioned in the book, the United States during the colonial period was a society dominated by an agricultural economy. Apart from land and population, data on commodity prices are lacking due to the self-sufficiency of home-based production. However, the United States is significantly different from its native agricultural country. The birth of the United States was synchronized with the first industrial revolution in Europe. By the mid-18th century, Western European countries that were engaged in primitive accumulation of capital had established 13 colonies in North America. The United States has experienced a process of rapid economic growth driven by imported population, technology, culture and capital.
  The author realizes that the development of capitalism in the United States has not experienced a “market revolution” like other Eurasian countries. The real force driving the United States forward is capital investment. Therefore, the author shifts the focus of historical evolution from commodification to capitalization, from consumer goods to capital goods, and from market exchange to capital investment.
  This book traces the long history of how and why modern American society adopted monetized values ​​and capitalist values ​​as indicators of human wealth, and finds that the American capitalist revolution was a very obvious capitalization process. With the rapid development of investment and productivity, social attention has gradually shifted to benefits based on economic indicators.
  The author analyzes a series of phenomena, such as the early British occupation of land that could be used to obtain rent; the rise of the Caribbean sugar industry where foreign investment promoted slavery as the dominant force; the issuance of sovereign bonds that capitalized the tax power of the United States; Eastern real estate investment the spatial expansion of Midwestern urban boundaries; the rapid growth of the highly financialized cotton industry; the railroad revolution that funneled vast amounts of American wealth into public corporations; the rise of mechanized factories that calculated labor costs in the same way as machine costs; and Securitize U.S. industries into asset mergers and acquisitions that can obtain stable income streams and can be bought and sold on the stock market, and thereby explain that only those capitals that can generate income are used in large quantities for production and investment, and the pricing of progress and life capitalization will occur.
  Capital exists in many forms and has promoted the development of economic statistical methods. It has also made some price and quantitative calculation methods important indicators for evaluating social progress, systems and policy formulation. This book chronicles the development of controversial economic indicators based on pricing from the mid-17th century to the early 20th century, in terms of capital rather than money. These economic indicators promote political, cultural and social development. It can be said that the history of pricing progress in the United States is also the history of the development of modern America.
Economic capitalization calculations

  In the first few decades of its founding, the United States had developed into a commercial society, but it was not yet a fully capitalist society. Until the mid-19th century, the main indicators used to quantify economic and social progress in the United States were crime, education, disease and other moral statistics. During this period, people in both the South and the North were citing such data to prove the superiority of their own systems.
  Money was not the primary measure of American progress in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Because in the early days of the United States, people did not have the habit of using currency to quantify their inputs and outputs. When federal Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton wrote his “Report on Manufactures” in 1791, tax collectors, farmers, and business owners everywhere were unable to provide price data.
  The history of quantitative analysis based on currency only lasts a few hundred years. With the formation and development of the capitalist social system, capital investment, as a professional and social universal sport, has spread rapidly in American society. The market gradually expanded and penetrated areas of life that had not been commodified, especially labor relations, which the author believes played a crucial role in the formation of American and global capitalism. It is for this reason that inspired the author to make a new elaboration on American economic history from the perspective of “capitalization”.
  The author believes that the main difference between capitalism and previous forms of social and cultural organization is capital investment, which transforms basic elements of social life such as natural resources, works of art, urban space, educational institutions, population, land, etc. into income and profit-generating Assets are allocated based on their ability to earn and generate income. Capitalization “is both a technical process and a social process. Only through this process can capital become capital.” How to quantify the role of capital is crucial to this process.
  From the 16th century to the mid-20th century, colonial plantations and primary raw material product processing plants attracted a large amount of investment from Europe. Investment projects had to produce necessary data to convince investors. The valuation methods currently used mainly in the economics community, such as the present value discount method, all originated from this period and have been continuously improved.
  With the development of the west, the investment boom in railways and canals, and the rise of the slave trade, capitalized operations emerged in the mid-19th century. The North mainly chose the real estate or railway fields for capital investment. With the influx of capital, a new class from the East Coast began to rise.
  At the same time, capital investment in the South was largely through the slave trade, and the price of a slave reflected not only his productivity but also his physical and character traits. Slaves were capitalized into mobile productive assets, and the value of a slave became a function of his or her future income stream.
  The gap between the North and the South on economic views continues to narrow. Rather than moral statistical indicators, people care more about urban industrial output, population growth, land prices, labor costs, rail transportation, per capita productivity and other data closely related to capital returns.
  As corporate mergers and factory technological capabilities increased during America’s Gilded Age (1870 to 1900) and Progressive Era (1890s to 1920), the influence of capital quantification penetrated from the business world into all aspects of American society. In the Progressive Era, the logic of money was everywhere.
  This kind of business culture regards someone or a place as, envisions, operates, manages or quantifies it as a capital item or investment that can generate income and make money. During this period, everything from social costs, such as the common cold, to social benefits, such as Niagara Falls, were valued.
  The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) hails GDP as one of mankind’s greatest inventions in the 20th century. It originated from the British enclosure movement and slave trade in the 17th century, and was formed in the United States in the 1930s. This long process has reached Summit logo.
policy analysis path

  Another important role of economic indicators is as a tool for policy formulation and evaluation. As early as the mid-to-late 17th century, William Petty introduced a large number of calculation and valuation methods in his book “Political Arithmetic”. These economic measurement methods promote the transformation of national governance towards modernization and modernization.
  The authors examine how maximizing market output gradually became the primary goal of U.S. economic and social policy. At the end of the 18th century, Alexander Hamilton advocated that the government should increase subsidies for manufacturing and began to devote himself to quantitative analysis of agriculture and manufacturing.
  For a long time, the way to evaluate policy was to “price progress,” which was to follow a group composed of union organizers, populist farmers, commentators, middle-class reformers, and “eight-hour workday” advocates. Progressives who precisely quantify urban poverty, gender discrimination, ownership independence, rural tenancy, class mobility, social justice, and rent-seeking behavior.
  At this stage of social development, people do not care about how the economy grows, but are more inclined to focus on the division and distribution of social wealth, and on the protection of people’s economic autonomy.
  Developments in investment and financial markets, effects on state finances, bourgeois liberalism, patriarchy, neoclassical economics, consumer culture, white racism, administrative bureaucracies, national business media, the Civil War, Progressive Era reforms, 1837 The Great Panic, as well as class conflicts, etc., all had a major impact. The money-first mentality resonates among the capitalist class. As holders of stocks, factories, wealth and other assets, they regard employees as “money-making machines.”
  A national corporate elite emerged as local merchants and owner-operated producers ceded significant social and economic power to institutional investors, investment banks, railroad managers, and the large manufacturing companies that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average. . This change in social development has also affected the way of economic quantification, leaving moral indicators behind and measuring enterprises, industries, and economic operations from the perspectives of capital, profit, and cost.
  Cost-benefit accounting, as the core theory of neoclassical economics and the main methodology for evaluating the impact of policies in modern capitalist countries, has obvious limitations. Economic indicators cannot measure every dimension of social welfare, such as personal development, health, recreation and happiness, including ethics.
  These dimensions, which are largely unmonetizable or capitalizable, need to be analyzed and evaluated. By analogy with the evolution of economic indicators from agricultural society to industrial society, perhaps we have reason to expect that the digital economy era will bring us a more complete indicator system for measuring social progress.

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