[OPE-L] centralization of capital

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Thu Feb 16 2006 - 10:56:00 EST

Marx's interpretation seems to be that "centralization" refers to the
effective ownership of productive assets in fewer hands (legal structure),
principally through the joint-stock system, while "concentration" refers to
the scale of production (physical plant size, or the amount of capital set
in motion in production).

So, if more and more enterprises are owned/controlled by the same
institutional entity or people, that would be "centralisation". If a few
large-scale enterprises substitute for many small-size enterprises, that
would be "concentration". Marx discusses in many passages how the one might
influence the other, but admittedly he sometimes uses "concentration" also
to refer to "centralisation" which is somewhat confusing.

There are many studies of the pattern of ownership and control of companies,
and, in official statistics, establishments are often ranked by the number
of workers employed. Rankings of the largest corporations globally are
provided by Forbes Magazine, Fortune Magazine and Business Review Weekly,
among others.

As regards the Fortune Global 500 largest corporations in 2003 (I don't have
the most recent data handy), they were
said to have issued share-capital worth about US$6.8 trillion and together
owned assets worth US$60.8 trillion. (Source: Fortune Vol. 150, No. 2,
Europe edition 13, July-August 2004, p. F-10). Banks, finance and insurance
companies are strongly represented in the list, and a number of them have
assets close to or larger than $1 trillion (e.g. Citigroup, ING, Deutsche
Bank, Mizuho, Mitsubishi). One trillion dollars is approximately equal to
the GDP of Mexico, Spain or Canada (world GDP is currently valued at about
40 trillion dollars).

According to the Merrill-Lynch report on "high net worth individuals", those
owning US$1 million or more in 2004 owned $30.8 trillion worth of assets.

Here in Holland, a country of 16.3 million people and a workforce of 7
million, there are about 102,600 people owning a million dollars or more,
and together they own about $310 billion of assets. Out of about 717,000
Dutch enterprises, about half are one-person enterprises, and about 1,300
enterprises have a workforce of 500 employees or more (6,595 enterprises
have more than 100 employees each). The top 10 Dutch corporations employ
about 1.5 million people worldwide; the top 40 corporations in Holland have
a number of employees equal to about 1/3 of the total Dutch workforce.


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