Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Usurer's Capital - Summary


  • Usurer's capital is the form of interest-bearing capital in precapitalist modes of production.
  • Along with merchant capital it constitutes an “antediluvian” form of capital; that is capital that self expands, but not on the basis, first, of the production of surplus value by productive-capital. It is not a real self-expansion of value, but really just an appropriation of value from elsewhere, on the basis of unequal exchange.
  • Usurer's capital, like all interest-bearing capital, appears to self-expand because an amount of capital is advanced, and returns as a greater sum of value, having been incremented by an amount of interest. But, this is not a true expansion of value. If A lends £10 to B, and, after a week, B pays A £12, including, £2 of interest, the £10 of capital, for A, appears to have self expanded by £2, but, in reality, B has simply transferred £2 of value from their own possession to that of A. A's gain is B's loss so that no overall expansion of value has occurred.
  • Usurer's capital is loaned to those desperate for money, and so involves high rates of interest. It appears in conditions when the only occasion for borrowing is such desperation for money, and also when the lenders of money are scarce.
  • Under capitalism, money-capital is continually returned to the producer, as part of the circuit of capital; realised profits provide a source of additional money-capital; commercial credit reduces the need for money as currency; and large money reserves, concentrated in the banking system, mean that large amounts of money-capital are available, so that the conditions that give rise to usury are undermined.
  • Usury continues for those unable to obtain money or money-capital in this way. Usury continues for the consumer who is desperate for money to fund their consumption, and pay bills. It exists in the form of the loan shark, payday lender, credit card interest, and unauthorised overdraft charges.
  • Usury exists for those who must have money as currency rather than to be used as money-capital, because no capitalist would borrow money in order to productively invest it, at a rate of interest that was greater than the rate of profit they can obtain on the investment.

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