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07-037The Political Economy ofCapitalismBruce R. ScottCopyright 2006 by Bruce R. ScottWorking papers are in draft form. This working paper is distributed for purposes of comment anddiscussion only. It may not be reproduced without permission of the copyright holder. Copies of workingpapers are available from the author.#07-037AbstractCapitalism is often defined as an economic system where private actors areallowed to own and control the use of property in accord with their own interests, andwhere the invisible hand of the pricing mechanism coordinates supply and demand inmarkets in a way that is automatically in the best interests of society. Government, in thisperspective, is often described as responsible for peace, justice, and tolerable taxes.This paper defines capitalism as a system of indirect governance for economicrelationships, where all markets exist within institutional frameworks that are provided bypolitical authorities, i.e. governments. In this second perspective capitalism is a threelevel system much like any organized sports. Markets occupy the first level, where thecompetition takes place; the institutional foundations that underpin those markets are thesecond; and the political authority that administers the system is the third. While marketsdo indeed coordinate supply and demand with the help of the invisible hand in a shortterm, quasi-static perspective, government coordinates the modernization of marketframeworks in accord w

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