In economics, capital denotes the means permanently made available for the production of goods; In economics , capital is thus a factor of production ; in business economics, it is the means of financing , divided into equity and debt , on the liabilities side of a balance sheet . Based on this, capital in sociology describes the resource that people have available to achieve their goals . Capital has a special meaning in Marxism : Karl Marx understood capital as an abstract value that is characterized by exploitation and takes on a quasi-religious character.
Etymologically , the word is derived from the Latin capitalis ("the head" or "relating to life"), this itself can be traced back to caput ("head", "main thing"), to which as a loan word that was probably used in Venice in years 1260 the common cavedal was created. Luca Pacioli also adopted this word when in 1494 he requested that the capital account be the last of the general ledger accounts ( Italian in questo cavedal quale conviene essere semper l'ultima partita di tutti li quademi ). In 1519 Jakob Fugger's chief accountant , Matthäus Schwarz, published the book Dreyerlei Buchhalten , in which, in addition to the journal and debt register, he also mentioned a book of goods (“Kaput”). In 1527 the capital appeared in the Fugger inventory as "Hauptguett und Zinns". Also, the diary of Lucas Rem from 1532 called the commercial capital as "Hauptgut" or "Cavedal". In 1549 Wolfgang Schweicker mentioned in his textbook the booking record “For Casa [cash, d. Author.] To Cauedal or Hauptgut “on which the transaction of the capital payment is based.
From the 16th century, the Italian loanword is capitale ( "assets" within the meaning of head number of livestock) as opposed to the freshly thrown animals as "interest".
Concept of capital in economics
In everyday language, capital means monetary or tangible assets, which are mostly intended for the circulation of goods. In the economic sense, capital can be understood to mean all the means of production involved in production ; H. the inventory of production equipment that can be used to produce goods and services. This stock is also called the capital stock and it contains goods such as tools, machines, equipment, etc., i.e. goods that were produced in an earlier production process.
But the term is used not only for the goods that are directly invested ( real capital ), but also for money, since money provides power to dispose of this real capital. Money, or money capital , therefore includes financial resources that are available for renewal and expansion of the capital stock. It does not matter from which sources, such as savings, corporate profits or loans, capital is made available, because in the short term, only financing is necessary for the formation of real capital, but not prior saving ( net investment ). In equilibrium, however, planned real capital formation and saving must match.
In addition to real and money capital, there is also the potential of the workforce based on training and education, or human capital . This term is explained by the high financial expenditures required to develop these skills and the profitability generated by them. It is assumed that human capital is consciously produced through the use of resources such as learning and training, but that “ learning by doing ” is also assumed. In this case, the human capital arises as a by-product in the production process.
The formation of capital increases the productivity of the other production factors and thus leads to higher yields, which in turn contribute to further capital formation, but are also the prerequisite for better wages for the production factor labor.
Like other economic goods, capital has the property of scarcity . Interest on capital arises from the property of scarcity . The interest on capital is the usage fee of the capital. The scarcity of capital can be natural or artificially created. The capital is only used against a usage fee, the interest on capital.
From a business point of view (see below), capital corresponds to assets . Ownership can be concentrated in a few hands or in a single hand (“concentration of capital”). The company then appears as an oligopoly or a monopoly .
Capital in the national accounts (VGR)
In the national accounts is generally on capital, less talked of capital (z. B. Net assets , fixed assets , as well as capital stock , gross and net monetary assets ). If you are looking for macroeconomic data on “capital”, you have to look for data on “wealth” in the national accounts.
Capital terms in business administration
Capital has already been defined as a central concept of inventory. In business administration there is another classic and a narrower modern concept of capital. Both conceptual versions have their own justification, but the practical consequences of the conceptual differences are minor.
Classic business concept of capital
The business administration that emerged from accounting studies at the beginning is strongly based on balance sheets. One of the patriarchs of German business administration, Eugen Schmalenbach, sees capital as the abstract value of the balance sheet as a classic business concept of capital. The basic structure of a balance sheet can be represented in the form of an account. Since the balance sheet total on the assets and liabilities side is the same (assets = capital), the positions on both sides are capital according to different classifications.
On the assets side , the asset- related equivalent of the operating capital is found, which shows the specific forms in which the capital has been used in the company (use of funds). The assets are the totality of all assets and funds used in the company, which are divided into fixed and current assets . Fixed assets include the goods that are intended to serve the company for a longer period of time and current assets are those assets that are usually used in production or converted within a short period of time (stocks, receivables, securities, cash).
On the liabilities side , one finds the capital as the sum of all financial resources made available by the investors, i.e. That is, it shows where the funds for the assets came from (source of funds). It is usually divided into equity ( equity capital ) and debt (creditor capital ) according to its origin . The distinction results from the legally different regulated position of equity and debt capital providers. Equity comprises those funds that are raised by the owners of a company to finance them or that are left in the company as economic profit (self-financing). Borrowed capital, on the other hand, is the designation for the company's reported debts (liabilities and provisions with the character of a liability) towards third parties that either arise legally or are economically caused.
If one subtracts the debts (= external capital) from the total capital or assets, one obtains the equity or net assets. The fact that assets and capital represent the same offense in different perspectives is also expressed in linguistic usage by speaking of tied up capital or assets or also capital or assets required for business operations, etc.
Monetary business concept of capital
In business administration, capital is usually brought into an existing or newly founded company in the form of funds , but the medium of money can be dispensed with and capital is brought in in the classic sense in the form of receivables or in the form of another asset. In this case, the addition of capital on the one hand and the tying up of capital in a certain asset on the other hand take place in one and the same process - split up in terms of ideas. As a model, capital can then be viewed simply as funds that are used in the company. The concept of monetary capital is narrower than the classic one because it relates to a certain type of asset, money, and not to all assets. It is particularly suitable for discussing liquidity issues .
Special concepts of capital used by various economists
Karl Marx (1818–1883) understood capital as a moving, abstract value that had to grow. In Das Kapital , Marx defines the substance of value as abstract labor that is constituted in the exchange of goods. The value gets its own shape through money, which embodies it; this form of value is necessary so that the value of the labor products exchanged can be asserted in society in general.
The general movement of capital describes Marx in the formula G - W - G '. Money is used to buy goods in order to sell for more money. The capitalist is the bearer of this movement, which has no end and no measure. The internal laws of capital appear to the capitalist as external practical constraints, namely as compulsory competition. The value can only grow if there are wage workers who generate more value than they get as wages. The production of surplus-value is limited to industrial capital ; capital can only appropriate surplus value in the form of trading capital and interest-bearing capital .
Capital takes on a quasi-religious character. Basic structures of the capitalist mode of production lead to the mystification of wages and profit , so that the exploitation becomes more difficult to recognize. In addition to the goods and money fetish, there is also a capital fetish : the increase in productive power and the ability to create new value are transferred from people to capital. The mystifications and fetishisms are related and culminate in the so-called trinitarian formula .
Marx saw in capital a historical phenomenon which, among other things, unfolds on the basis of original accumulation and general production of goods. It develops according to law and in the course of its development it has to produce elements that make a communist society possible.
The Marxist analysis has not been pursued further in neoclassical theory and does not play a significant role in modern economics . Business cycle theorists such as Joseph Alois Schumpeter (1883–1950) resorted to Marx's conception of the dynamics of capital ( theory of economic development ).
Joseph Alois Schumpeter
Joseph Alois Schumpeter (1883–1950) defined his concept of capital in the theory of economic development in a purely functional way. Capital is an instrument of domination with which the entrepreneur can rule over those goods that he needs for his innovations. In the case of goods, it can be, for example, land, tools, machines or work. Schumpeter's concept of capital is monetary. Capital consists of means of payment with which the entrepreneur can buy the goods he needs on the market; the goods bought are not themselves capital. Accordingly, money is not just a medium of exchange, but acquires a capital function.
The entrepreneurial function is only to introduce innovations. The entrepreneur as such does not have to be a capital owner who risks his own fortune; he does not have to come from a certain class and is not restricted to any type of company. He doesn't have to be an inventor either. The innovations essentially include new goods, new production methods, new raw material sources and sales markets as well as the reorganization of an industry, such as B. by establishing or breaking a monopoly. The capitalist as such makes his capital available and takes the risk.
Schumpeter conceives of capital as a phenomenon of development. It enables innovations and thus the central impulse of the capitalist economy. As a result, economic life changes spontaneously and discontinuously, so that imbalances arise. Innovation is the essential moment in competition. They also change the composition of the bourgeois class: successful entrepreneurs often compete with others and they or their families move up to the higher classes; the mere administrators of inherited assets, however, usually disappear after a few generations.
Capital requires a transport economy, that is, an economy that is characterized by private property, division of labor and competition. The goods required for innovation are transferred via the market from the domain of one private economy to another by means of money, which has a capital function; in this sense there can only be private capital. One can only speak meaningfully of social capital if one understands by it a computational aggregate of the individual private capital. The peculiarity of a capitalist economy is that the goods required for innovation are transferred by means of credit. In contrast, there are socialist or communist societies. In these there is no capital in this sense. By order or agreement of those involved, the means of production required for innovation are withdrawn from one area and transferred to another.
From capitalism, socialism and democracy it is clear that Schumpeter viewed capital as a historical phenomenon. The capitalist dynamic itself leads to the automation of progress and consequently to the fact that the entrepreneurial function will become less important. The entrepreneur as adventurer who follows his intuition is increasingly being replaced by specialists who routinely and reliably calculating invent something; the strong-willed personality following a vision will be replaced by rationalized and specialized office work. The incomes of industrial capitalists would become salaries for normal administrative work in huge, heavily bureaucratized industrial units; the capitalist class would lose its income and function. The capitalist economy will transform into a socialist one in the long term.
Concepts of capital in sociology
In Pierre Bourdieu's multidimensional sociology of culture, there are several manifestations for capital. He is of the opinion that the exchange of goods is only one of the various possible forms of social exchange. He generally describes the resources that people have at their disposal to achieve their goals, i.e. the prerequisites that they bring with them in the struggle in the social fields for their position in social space . He therefore names the following forms of capital: economic capital , cultural capital , social capital and symbolic capital .
According to Bourdieu, economic capital is material wealth, e.g. B. the possession of money, means of production, shares and property which z. B. is institutionalized by property rights. That which is also understood by capital in the traditional sense. Bourdieu is of the opinion that economic capital is still of great importance today, but that political and social power is also dependent on other influences. Because economic capital alone can no longer guarantee a position of power, only in connection with the two other forms of capital (social and cultural capital) can real power be exercised.
The cultural capital is Bourdieu particularly important. For him it is the capital that a person has at his disposal due to his school and extracurricular education, so he understands this term above all to be educational capital. The cultural capital is inheritable through family tradition, i.e. it is passed on to the children within a family. A certain habitus is also associated with this. The “possession” of cultural capital is also dependent on economic capital, since schooling, for example, has to be financed somehow.
Bourdieu distinguishes between different partial forms of cultural capital:
- Incorporated cultural capital
- Incorporation means the internalization of cultural capital; In this case, the acquisition of cultural capital is a process in which culture is inscribed into the body. Thus, these are cultural abilities and skills, as well as forms of knowledge that are body-related, i.e. education. The time factor plays a major role here, as the incorporation, which must be carried out again and again by each individual, takes time. Since z. If, for example, not every family can invest the same amount in the education of their children, this form of capital promotes social inequalities.
- Objectified cultural capital
- According to Bourdieu, objectified cultural capital means cultural goods, such as B. paintings or books. The acquisition of such cultural goods is strongly tied to economic capital. Because to buy a painting, for example, economic capital is required; but that initially only causes a change in ownership. Only when one understands the actual meaning and purpose of this painting can one speak of objectified cultural capital.
- Institutionalized cultural capital
- The institutionalization of cultural capital exists in the form of school titles and educational certificates, such as: B. Secondary school leaving certificate, high school diploma, university degree (diploma, master's ...). "The school title is a certificate of cultural competence that gives its holder a permanent and legally guaranteed conventional value" (Bourdieu, 1983).
Institutionalization through academic titles is, in turn, closely linked to economic capital. During the training period, a lot of economic capital (and time) must first be invested, but after acquiring an educational title, this cultural capital can also be converted into economic capital. a. higher incomes can be expected.
The third form of capital introduced by Bourdieu is social capital . Bourdieu means the relationships that an individual can fall back on. This means that you can take advantage of a permanent network, which consists of more or less institutionalized relationships with other individuals. Thus, social capital is a group-based resource that gives individuals access to the characteristics of societal and social life, such as: B. Help, support, recognition. Social capital functions purely immaterially and symbolically, so that Bourdieu also calls this form of capital symbolic capital. With the sociological term social capital , Pierre Bourdieu (1983) describes the totality of current and potential resources that are connected with participation in the network of social relationships of mutual knowledge and recognition. In contrast to human capital, social capital does not refer to natural persons per se, but to the relationships between them.
The symbolic capital is generally one the other three forms of capital parent resource. It comes about through social recognition and acts as a prestige or reputation. The institutionalized cultural capital in the form of educational titles is always symbolic capital as well, since it is recognized by the other individuals in society. Social capital is always also symbolic capital, since it depends on recognition in order to be used as a means of power. The symbolic capital gives an individual creditworthiness in the broadest sense, which is due to belonging to a certain group. Owners of symbolic capital thus enjoy a reputation and thus a certain prestige.
According to Bourdieu, the various forms of capital are mutually convertible and transferable.
Further forms of capital not influenced by Bourdieu ( values as a result of increasing uncertainty) lie in information and connections:
- intellectual capital
- Sum of what a person or a company knows, how to use their knowledge and how quickly you acquire new knowledge
- human capital
- interpersonal relationships
- structural capital
- the entire systems, procedures and strategies that have emerged from experience
- Internal liability due to proportionate under-capitalization
- Share capital
- Human capital
- Capital controversy
- Local capital
- Natural capital
- Share capital
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- Joseph Alois Schumpeter: Theory of economic development. A study of entrepreneurial profits, capital, credit, interest and the business cycle . 7th edition. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1987, p. 165 : “Capital is nothing else than the lever that is supposed to enable the entrepreneur to subject the concrete goods he needs to his rule, nothing else than a means to dispose of goods for new purposes or as a Means of dictating a new direction for production. That is the only function of capital and it marks its position in the organism of the national economy. "
- Joseph Alois Schumpeter: Theory of economic development. A study of entrepreneurial profits, capital, credit, interest and the business cycle . 7th edition. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1987, p. 166 .
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- Joseph Alois Schumpeter: Theory of economic development. A study of entrepreneurial profits, capital, credit, interest and the business cycle . 7th edition. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1987, p. 167 : “The capital of a company is also not the epitome of all goods serving its purposes. Because capital is opposed to the world of goods: goods are bought for capital - "capital is invested in goods" - but this is precisely where the knowledge lies that its function is different from that of the goods acquired. [...] Capital is the means of procuring goods. "
- Joseph Alois Schumpeter: Theory of economic development. A study of entrepreneurial profits, capital, credit, interest and the business cycle . 7th edition. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1987, p. 172–173 : “In an economy without development there is no“ capital ”or, in other words, capital does not fulfill its characteristic function, is not an independent agent, but behaves neutrally. Or, to put it another way, the various forms of general purchasing power do not appear under the aspect embodied by the word capital: They are simply a medium of exchange, a technical means of carrying out ordinary transactions. This exhausts their role here - they have no other role than this technical role, so that one can ignore them without overlooking something very essential. In the implementation of new combinations, however, money and its surrogates become an essential factor, and we express that by calling them capital. "
- Joseph Alois Schumpeter: Theory of economic development. A study of entrepreneurial profits, capital, credit, interest and the business cycle . 7th edition. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1987, p. 111 : "An enterprise is what we call the implementation of new combinations and also their embodiment in operations, etc., entrepreneurs the economic subjects whose function is the implementation of new combinations and who are the active element in this."
- Joseph Alois Schumpeter: Theory of economic development. A study of entrepreneurial profits, capital, credit, interest and the business cycle . 7th edition. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1987, p. 111 : "[...] first of all, we do not just call entrepreneurs those" independent "economic subjects of the transport industry who are usually called that, but all who actually fulfill the function that is constitutive for the term, even if, as is currently more and more common," Employed "employees of a stock corporation - but also private companies - such as directors, board members, etc. are [...] Second, we speak of entrepreneurs not only for those historical epochs in which there are entrepreneurs as a special social phenomenon, but we tie in terms and names the function and to all individuals who actually fulfill it in any form of society, be they also organs of a socialist community or masters of a labor court or chiefs of a primitive tribe. "
- Joseph Alois Schumpeter: Theory of economic development. A study of entrepreneurial profits, capital, credit, interest and the business cycle . 7th edition. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1987, p. 129 : “The function of inventor or technician in general and that of entrepreneur do not coincide. The entrepreneur can also be an inventor and vice versa, but basically only by chance. The entrepreneur as such is not the intellectual creator of the new combinations, the inventor as such is neither entrepreneur nor leader of any other kind. "
- Joseph Alois Schumpeter: Theory of economic development. A study of entrepreneurial profits, capital, credit, interest and the business cycle . 7th edition. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1987, p. 100-101 .
- Joseph Alois Schumpeter: Theory of economic development. A study of entrepreneurial profits, capital, credit, interest and the business cycle . 7th edition. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1987, p. 104-105 and p. 112 .
- Joseph Alois Schumpeter: Theory of economic development. A study of entrepreneurial profits, capital, credit, interest and the business cycle . 7th edition. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1987, p. 94-99 .
- Joseph Alois Schumpeter: Theory of economic development. A study of entrepreneurial profits, capital, credit, interest and the business cycle . 7th edition. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1987, p. 238-239 .
- Joseph Alois Schumpeter: Theory of economic development. A study of entrepreneurial profits, capital, credit, interest and the business cycle . 7th edition. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1987, p. 4 : “So we want to design the basics of an intellectual replica of the economic transmission. First of all we want to think of an economy organized in terms of transport, that is, one in which private property, division of labor and free competition prevail. "
- Joseph Alois Schumpeter: Theory of economic development. A study of entrepreneurial profits, capital, credit, interest and the business cycle . 7th edition. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1987, p. 165 : “That economic form in which the goods necessary for new productions are withdrawn from their determinations in the cycle through the intervention of purchasing power, that is, through purchase in the market, is the capitalist economy, while those economic forms in which this is done through some authority or through Agreement of all parties involved that represent capitalless production. "
- Joseph Alois Schumpeter: Theory of economic development. A study of entrepreneurial profits, capital, credit, interest and the business cycle . 7th edition. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1987, p. 174 : “Capital is an agent of transportation. A process of the transport economy is expressed in the capital aspect, namely the transition of the means of production from the sphere of control of one private economy to that of another. In our sense there is therefore really only private capital. Only in the hands of private companies can the means of payment fulfill their capital role. So it would be of little use in itself to speak of social capital in this sense. Nevertheless, the sum of private capital tells us something: It indicates the size of the fund that can be made available to the entrepreneurs, the size of the power to withdraw the means of production from their previous channels. Therefore the concept of social capital would by no means be pointless, even though such capital would not exist in a communist economy. "
- Joseph Alois Schumpeter: Theory of economic development. A study of entrepreneurial profits, capital, credit, interest and the business cycle . 7th edition. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1987, p. 104-105 : “Providing this credit is evidently the function of that category of economic subjects called“ capitalists ”. Just as obviously this is the method peculiar to the "capitalist" [sic] economic form - and important enough to serve as its differentia specifica - to force the national economy into new paths, to make its means serve new goals, in contrast to the closed method or planned economy of any kind, which simply consists in exercising the authority of the governing body. "
- Joseph Alois Schumpeter: Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy . 10th edition. Narr Francke Attempto Verlag, Tübingen 2020, p. 171-172 .
- Joseph Alois Schumpeter: Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy . 10th edition. Narr Francke Attempto Verlag, Tübingen 2020, p. 173-174 .
- Joseph Alois Schumpeter: Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy . 10th edition. Narr Francke Attempto Verlag, Tübingen 2020, p. 174-175 .