Capital Accumulation Did Not Require Cutbacks in Consumption

(p. 166) Of course, the capital that supplied the Industrial Revolution was not created out of thin air. But neither was it painfully accumulated by the frugal habits of Protestant burghers, expropriated from labor by massive reductions of wages, or squeezed out of reduced consumption. No reduction in the real income of workers or landowners nor in their rate of consumption, no national resolve to increase the rate of saving, was needed to fund the new machines and the new forms of factory organization. Rather, the increase in output that was generated by the factories was more than sufficient to pay their capital costs over a short period of time, for the increase was large and the capital costs were modest.

Rosenberg, Nathan, and L.E. Birdzell, Jr. How the West Grew Rich: The Economic Transformation of the Industrial World. New York: Basic Books, 1986.

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