EconoFiction

Remarks on Suzanne de Brunhoffs “Marx on Money”

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6 Feb , 2020  

Recently, the writings of Suzanne de Brunhoff (1929-2015), largely unknown at least in the German-speaking world, have again been mentioned by some Marxist economists and philosophers. Tony Norfield refers to Brunhoff in his book “The City” in a footnote in connection with the little-discussed role of private banks as creators of giral money, although this plays a rather subordinate role both for Marx and for Brunhoff in her book Marx on Money, which is the subject of this article. For Norfield, Brunhoff provided the most explicit analysis of Marx’s theory of the credit creation of banks. Christian Kerslake points to the not insignificant role Brunhoff plays in capital analysis in Deleuze and Guattari’s “Anti-Oedipus”. Brunhoff wrote a series of texts on Marxist economics, the most famous of which are probably Capitalisme Public Financier (Public Finance Capitalism) from 1967 and La monnaie chez Marx (Marx on Money) from 1976. Despite all the opposing positions that one can have on the question of money commodity, for example, her texts appear interesting above all because she strives for precise distinctions and definitions of the terms money, capital, monetary capital and finance.

For Brunhoff, in Marx’s view, the role of money is determined by its functions within the logic of commodity production and not in terms of the time sequence of historical economic relations. In a simple production of goods (the W-G-W relation is decisive here) a general equivalent is needed to allow the exchange of private producers to take place. Brunhoff, however, does not want to get involved in a historicization of capital that goes back to Engels, according to which the analyses of the first sections of Capital Volume 1 are those of a really existing simple production of goods. The historical analysis of gold, which embodies the general equivalent, is subordinated to the logical analysis, which Brunhoff initially conceives as a general theory of money. Gold can serve as a measure of the value of goods precisely because it functions as a general equivalent. Brunhoff quotes Marx in this context, who writes that the difficulty is not in understanding why money is a commodity, but rather how a commodity takes on the role of money. It is involved in the social relation not only of production but also of the circulation of capital (Brunhoff repeatedly underestimates the role of circulation). Brunhoff wants to investigate the specific form of money, which for her is inseparable and yet separate from other characteristic relations of the capital-economy. She is therefore not only concerned with the analysis of the specific form of money in the capital economy, but first of all with a theory of money in general. She claims that Marx, in the first sections of Capital Bd.1, presented a general theory of money that is independent of the capitalist form of production and yet necessary to specify the role of money for capital. This general theory is not an ideal or hypothetical structure that needs to be concretized; rather, Marx, in the first sections of Capital Volume 1, endeavored to produce a general theory of the circulation of goods and money. In Capital Vol. 2 and 3, the aim is then to explain the functioning of the general laws of the circulation of money in capitalist production, in which there is a special circulation of money, namely that of credit. And so the analysis of money in Capital Volume 1, Section 3, represents only a part of the theory of money.

Brunhoff starts from the following assumptions: 1) The circulation of goods and money is characteristic of the production of goods, in which exchange presupposes the private production of goods. 2) One cannot define goods and money exclusively in terms of the qualities of capital. 3) Therefore, when analysing money, one must start from metal money and not from credit. The circulation of money and its relation to goods provides the visibility of the material metal money, while the circulation of credit is an immaterial cycle in which reciprocal obligations and rights confront and balance each other.

It is necessary to start from the abstract form of money to arrive at its specific form in relation to capitalist production. Gold can take over the function of money in relation to goods, because it itself plays the role of an exclusive commodity, a money commodity, in relation to them. The commodity, which is excluded as a general equivalent or as money from the series of all other commodities, at the same time excludes all other commodities from the general equivalent. Money is not a commodity like all others, it is separate from them.

For Brunhoff, the basic purpose of money is the general equivalent form, which is incorporated by a monetary commodity and thus differs from all other commodities like all other commodities from it. This characterizes all monetary economies, but beyond that, it is necessary to analyze the relationships between exactly this form of money and the multiple functions and aspects of money. However, according to Brunhoff, this should not be thought of as a Hegelianizing relationship between beings and the phenomena that express them. All the functions of money are distinct and yet interrelated, and only in combination do they ultimately reproduce the general equivalent form. Only the complete theory of all functions of money makes it possible to explain the specific form of money and at the same time to think a general theory of money. For this Brunhoff considers three functions of money necessary (which are successively analysed by Marx): 1) Measure of value. 2) Medium of circulation. 3) Value storage medium. Only at the end of these three steps is money fully defined, although money as a general equivalent qua exclusion is to be understood from the outset as the principle of all functions and articulations of money.

However, it must be remembered, and this must be objected to Brunhoff, that the exclusion of the commodity gives it no value, but a specific form of value. Subsequently, Michael Heinrich, for example, asserts that if a commodity serves as a value mirror of the other commodities, no monetary commodity is necessary for it. Marx shows that with the general value form an exclusive value form has to confront the goods, but this representational form does not have to be commodity form, because this would mean to confuse the formal character of the utility value of the general equivalent, in which the goods express their value, with the utility value characteristics of the goods excluded from the general equivalent. Moreover, the exclusion of the general equivalent must be repeated, but the fact that this is still being done today with gold can safely be denied. The problematization of money has to assume from the beginning that it is not gold that makes money valuable, but conversely it is money that gives gold value in the first place. And this in turn points to the fact that money does not need any reference to a money commodity. In the first edition of capital, the development of the general equivalent form to the form of money fails because of the compelling impossibility of the fourth value form, which Marx eliminated in the second edition of capital in order to be able to think of a kind of transition from the general equivalent form to the form of money, which Marx, however, no longer presents as a conceptual development, but describes as the result of an interplay of socially unconscious habits and actions in dealing with money in the exchange processes. Thus the concept of money cannot be developed from the commodity form/value form, nor does it catch up with the value forms; rather, money (as a result of capital) distinguishes itself at once as symbolic money and attracts a material from the collections of commodities, although not arbitrary. Money attains its validity as a symbolic marker that represents pure purchasing power – in one fell swoop (convertibility per se) money refers to the most diverse goods that are opposed to money as all contents, and thus goods are not money and money is not them. By virtue of its objective validity, money can potentially be used to have everything that ever already corresponds to its peculiar positioning in relation to the goods. These are structures of representation, because validity is not effective in itself but always for other things, i.e. the validity of money explicates the structure of the representation of an absent person. Money is seen as the representation of value, which is always absent, but in its absence remains absolutely necessary for capital. Money also has a socially validated monopoly character and at the same time establishes equivalence; it presupposes these characteristics and reproduces them continuously. Any use of money or monetary system, unlike simple barter, presupposes a certain stability of public confidence.

Frank Engster, too, attempts to solve the problem of exclusion by referring to the exclusion of a monetary commodity, which in the strong sense of a gift is given practically-ideally in order to fix an ideal unit of value, which is also decisive for the quantification of the relations of all other commodities. Thus not only the apparent break between the general value form and money (form), as stated by Backhaus or Heinrich, but also the break between the general, third value form and the fourth value form would be cemented. But who decides to exclude the money commodity? In a certain sense, it is the goods themselves

it is the goods themselves which, before they adhere to an ideal unit of value (money), have already decided to exclude the monetary goods. But is it really the goods themselves, or is it quite practically the owners of the goods, or is it possibly neither the goods nor the owners of the goods? Is it the money, or is it even the exclusion itself, which decides on the exclusion, and thus promotes the direct relationship of the goods to each other and their relationship to money? On the one hand, it is money that exposes the goods to their ideal unit of value at one fell swoop, thus placing them in quantitative relations to one another, that is, confronting them in order to stand up for their identity at the same time. On the other hand, money only reflects the relationship to the goods that the latter have already decided on by excluding a monetary commodity. No real solution will be found here. For the trained Hegelian, the synthesis would probably consist precisely in making exclusion itself a factor of exclusion in order to take the sliding process to the next level in a well Hegelian way. This is probably also meant by the figure of catching up.

Back to Brunhoff. Marx deduces the first function of money, namely that of money as a measure of value, directly from the general equivalent. This function implies both the formal difference (gold as an excluded money commodity) and the equivalence between goods and money (both contain identical social working time). The latter means that money as an external measure of value always remains related to the immanent measure of value of goods, the abstract general working time. This is often associated with the idea of a scale with money and goods on both sides. However, this presupposes money as a measure, although only when money has been developed can the goods in a general relationship as values relate to each other. (For the problem of equivalence, see here).

The goods enter the circulation with a price and the money with a value (gold). The fixing of the price form is identical with the emergence of the money form. At the same time, for Brunhoff, as already seen, the monetary form implies the production of money as a commodity. Thus a modification of the prices of commodities can take place, which is due to the change in the relative value of gold as a commodity. (However, the difference between value and price is not yet relevant at this level of analysis). As an exclusive money commodity, gold has a potentially variable value, otherwise it would be attributed a mysterious power (as an absolute value) in terms of the destination of the goods. However, money has no price, otherwise it would be just one commodity among others and would lose its character as a general equivalent and its function as a measure of value.

The distinction and the necessary relation to the goods, which appears as an irreversible order, leads to the second function of money, the medium of circulation, after money as a measure of value has already been established. Money as a medium of circulation implies less the manifestation of money than the practical guarantee that money functions as a measure of value. Only in circulation does the fixing of prices acquire its full significance (circulation is here the counter term to mere exchange). The first function of money conditions the second, but the second is the necessary complement of the first. Without this relationship, money would have either a purely ideal character (first function) or a purely functional character (second function). The first function of money implies the variability of its value, the second function implies the variability of the quantity that circulates. The dematerialisation of gold money is related to the difference between the first and second functions. While in the first function the physical role of gold remains necessary, in the second function money must be present in real terms, but must be replaced (also due to the inefficiency of metallic money). While the value of money varies in the first function, it is kept constant hypothetically in the second function, where the quantities of money can vary. Thus, as a standard of value and as a measure of value, money/gold must still be physically present, while money as a medium of circulation, where it must be present not only imaginary but real, becomes materially irrelevant and quantity becomes the decisive factor. The value measure of money does not imply at once the current circulation, only money as a medium of circulation can establish the form of cash transactions W-G-W. The medium itself must no longer be present here as a money commodity. The symbol or paper money is sufficient, so that the function absorbs the material existence. For Marx, however, the quantity of money hangs,

which currently circulates – in contrast to quantity theory – is different from the quantity of goods. It is a dependent variable of commodity prices, the volume of goods and the speed of transactions. According to Brunhoff, the distinction between metallic money and fiat money is that between money as a measure of value and money as a medium of circulation. Paper money is a symbol of metallic money, and if too much of it is spent in relation to the metallic money it represents, then it is devalued. For Brunhoff, paper money stands in a representational relationship to its general equivalent. At this point, Brunhoff reproduces the “ideological” separation between the “real and monetary” spheres.

The difference between the quantity of money with a variable (produced) value and the quantity of money with a given value in circulation must be absorbed. The difference between the total quantity of money and the quantity currently circulating is regulated by hoarding. As a store of value (third function) money becomes a specific money commodity, i.e. it does not exist in general nor in its function as a medium.

With the third function money becomes “pure” and at the same time offers the transformation of money into credit. The hoarding of money interrupts the circulation of goods; it includes the demand for money as money. The third function can only be analysed according to the other two functions, otherwise the money here would be reduced to the mere demand for metal. By “producing” money in its third function through the first two functions, money itself now constitutes their existence by modifying the two functions. Hoarding adjusts the relationship between the measure of value and the medium of circulation (whether simple circulation or extended circulation at the level of wage labour and capital is not yet relevant here). It completes the economic description of money in the simple circulation of goods by absorbing the excess supply of money resulting from transactions in the circulation. Money in circulation does not belong to anyone, but its specific circulation depends on hoarding. In addition, the treasury maintains the value of the general equivalent. (Marx distinguishes between saving and hoarding.) The original supply of money corresponds to the demand for it, both as a medium of transaction and as treasure. The regulatory function (in circulation) can be fulfilled not only by gold, but by any currency.

The desire of the hoarder is sui generis insatiable, since money is immediately convertible into any other commodity (today this is called the liquidity of money). However, this does not imply any psychology, but the desire remains related to the unit of the general equivalent and its function to maintain this unit. In comparison with the potential infinity that money has in circulation, the amount that the hoarder can accumulate remains limited.

The unity of the three functions and their separation creates the possibility of imbalances. (There is no measure that could measure the relationship between the infinite power of money and the determination of the value of money). The fragile stability of the form of money is maintained by the plurality of functions and by the duality of hoarding and non hoarding. Nothing but the existence of money is explained here; money is produced for Brunhoff like all goods, but has its own mode of circulation. Money is never neutral and can be neutralized neither by credit nor by monetary policy, since it always allows for certain private decisions. However, the three functions are not sufficient to create a stable monetary system. For this purpose, credit is needed, which makes a higher range of means of payment available.

Money as means of payment and world money. As a means of payment, money comes into play at the end of a sale of goods based on credit and can be written down as follows: W-credit money. In terms of payment terms, money acts as a means of payment in circulation. The credit has to be repaid sui generis and thus the credit system is transformed into the monetary system. The credit therefore always contains the reference to “real” money. No equivalents are exchanged in the loan, but rather the lender lends a sum of money to the borrower over a contractually agreed period of time, who must make a contractually codified promise to repay it with interest. Within this financial constellation, the creditor (lender) remains the owner of the money, which he intends to book as a growing asset in the future and which he can also resell, while the debtor (borrower)

can handle the borrowed money over the contractually agreed period as if it were his own money. The credit introduces the time, the time period, which already arises when a buyer of goods does not pay the seller of the goods directly in cash, so that both parties mutate into creditor and debtor and enter into a specific relationship, which is regulated by contract and law. The credit includes a certain amount of money and the means of payment necessary to terminate the contract. The credit is the closed circle of a financial transaction. But more than that (and this is true for the credit between industrial and financial capital): The power of money to function as capital is separated in credit from the ownership of money capital, which remains with the lender.

For Brunhoff, universal money is incarnated per se by gold, and only on the world market does it acquire the character of this money commodity, whose body is the incarnation of abstract social labor. The real mode of its existence corresponds here to its ideal. Political power also emanates from money. On the one hand, money is based on a purely economic convention, but on the other hand it must be regulated by law. The state spends the money of circulation, i.e. paper money that is publicly recognized. But the state cannot determine the value of money; rather, the monetary power of the state depends on the immanent laws of the monetary circulation of money, as Brunhoff described it with the three functions of money. The social relation of money is based on the private exchange between private owners of goods, which, however – and this is largely disregarded by Brunhoff – in the capitalist mode of production is ever already the social relation between capitalists who throw their goods into circulation.

But since Brunhoff assumes that she has explained money as such, there is no need for a special monetary theory of capital. Rather, the theory of money produces the theory of finance, which means nothing other than that the integration of the theory of money into the theory of capital must be accompanied by studies of the financing of capital. The specific financial mechanisms that develop along capitalist production depend first of all on the credit system, which distinguishes Marx from the monetary system. If Marx distinguishes credit and money, then, according to Brunhoff, to create a monetary theory of credit and not a theory of credit money.

The financing of capital, which is needed to start and repeat production, also implies the financing of its reproduction. The prerequisite for this analysis is that of monetary capital, that is, the general conditions under which money can first play a financial role in the circulation of capital. The functions of monetary capital relate not only to the movement of capital, but also to the distribution of added value. In Capital Vol. 2, Marx assumes three cycles of capital: monetary capital, productive capital and commodity capital, where the cycle of monetary capital comprehensively represents the movements of capital. Money capital is the motor for every capitalist who starts a business and has to buy goods (means of production, energy, raw materials, software, etc.) and rent labor. Just as the circulation of goods determines the circulation of money, the circulation of capital implies a priori the circulation of money capital. The formula of the circulation of money capital (in relation to the circulation formulas of commodity capital and productive capital presented in the second volume of Capital) is here the primary expression of the capital economy and its social relations, which include the production of goods as production-for-circulation and production-for-profit. Every capitalist enterprise has to follow a priori capital processes, for example the use of monetary capital (of industrial and commercial enterprises) and the purchase of goods that generate costs (purchase of means of production, raw materials and rental of labour), in order to then produce goods in the course of production processes that are quantified differently from the purchased goods, i.e. realize as monetary output a higher price than the monetary input. This type of monetary capital circulation concerns not only the beginning but also the end of the cycle. Monetary capital constantly accompanies the cycles of productive capital and commodity capital, the productive and reproductive effects of industrial capital. However, another form of the increase of monetary capital takes place in financial capital, which we have already discussed in detail elsewhere.

If one rents labor with money, then

this is a function of money as a medium of circulation, which the capitalist issues as money capital. It is an exchange of equivalents, that is, the transformation of a monetary function between buyer and seller into a capital function between capitalist and owner of labor. Monetary capital here represents a social relation. For Brunhoff, production per se dominates circulation, just as monetary capital dominates money. Capital must always return to money at the end of the circulation in order to carry out the initial exchange again and reproduce itself. Which form of money is used for this (bill of exchange, paper money, credit) is secondary, but capital must always be advanced as monetary capital, whereby the amount of money remains dependent on the requirements and cycles of the production that must be financed. Conversely, the size and efficiency of production is not primarily dependent on financial resources, but on the composition of productive capital, i.e. the organic composition of capital and the rate of profit. One cannot, however, derive the function of money from its use as monetary capital, nor its capital form from the monetary form. The problem of financing is thus reduced to the determination of proportions between G and W that are useful for capital.

According to Brunhoff, Marx distinguished the monetary system from the credit system. This distinction also serves Marx to include credit in his general theory of money. A purely monetary theory of credit, however, would only make it the expression or surface of money, whereas a purely financial theory would discuss credit solely in terms of capital economics. For Brunhoff, credit is thus the result of capitalist production and monetary circulation. The relations between money, monetary capital and credit depend on the specific relation between the economic agents, in this case the industrial and financial capitalists, who have to share the total surplus value. Financial capital is sui generis monetary capital and thus represents a fraction of total capital. The financial functions of financial capital are derived from monetary capital. Credit must therefore be discussed after money and monetary capital. Nevertheless, financial capital functions largely autonomously to ensure the financing of capitalist operations, those of the entire class of industrial, commercial and financial capitalists. The so-called financial intermediaries (banks) are themselves capitalists, that is, they undertake the technical operations of finance only because they benefit from them by sharing the added value.

The monetary theory of credit leads to a unified theory of credit, with which the financial structures (market and credit economy) and their cyclical course are discussed, each already linked to the characteristics of money and monetary capital. Brunhoff is therefore not concerned with a general theory of credit, but with a theory that takes into account the specific conditions of the capital economy. Credit existed before capitalism, i.e. it has a double aspect, a pre-modern and a modern one. However, credit theory here is about the developed form of interest-bearing capital, the credit system. Since the credit system finances capitalist reproduction at the levels of individual and total capital, it must be analysed as one of the most important elements of the new mode of capitalist production.

The distinction between the monetary system and the credit system leads precisely to a monetary theory of credit (money). The credit system today includes banknotes, cheques, acceptances, bills, all evidence of debt. There is a general distinction to be made between the commercial credit that capitalists grant each other and bank credit. The commercial credit, which makes the seller a creditor and the buyer a debtor, is on the border between the monetary system and the credit system. If it is incorporated into the latter, the totality of transactions between capitalists can never lead to a balance, due to the diversity of the different branches of production. According to Brunhoff, one must continue to discuss the monetary characteristics of credit money, the basis of which is the circulation of debt, i.e. the non-circulation of money. The “credit money” is part of the credit system and is different from gold, and if this were not so, then the sum of the banknotes would be completely dependent on the quantity of gold to satisfy the necessities of circulation. Gold would be the sole basis for all other means of payment. The quantity of credit money that is needed

corresponds more to hoarding and non-hoarding.

Where there is circulation of goods, there is money. Although credit did not originally evolve as money, it ultimately carries the traits of money. Its basis is then the monetary system, for which it is a substitute, although its mode of circulation is completely different from that of money. (The simple circulation of money is infinite, whereas the circulation of “credit money” contains a closed circuit, i.e. the flow and reflux of money as a means of payment). Credit replaces money because it has money trains of its own. Credit money thus has monetary qualities; it is not only a medium of circulation but also an instrument of hoarding. However, the first function of money, i.e. value measure, cannot be performed directly by credit money. Credit money is money only insofar as it takes the place of current money, and this in relation to its nominal value. This convertibility is initially of theoretical significance, but does not yet imply effective convertibility. What is crucial here is that the value of money now depends on how the two forms of money (money as a measure of value and credit), which cannot be reduced to one another because they belong to different logics, are combined. Deleuze interprets Brunhoff to mean that the convertibility between the two different forms of money implies a dissimulation of the differences between the two flows (so workers are not aware that their wages, mere means of payment, are also part of the flows of financial capital). Deleuze writes about this:

This convertibility is completely fictive: it depends on the relation to gold; it depends on the unity of the markets, it depends on the rate of interest. In fact, it is not made in order to function, it is made, according to Suzanne de Brunhoff, in order to dissimulate the capitalist operation. The fictive convertibility, theoretical, constant, of one form of money to another, assures the dissimulation of how it works. What interests me in this concept of dissimulation, is that at the level that Brunhoff analyses it, it is no longer an ideological concept, but an operational or organisational concept, i.e. the monetary circuit can only function on the basis of an objective dissimulation: the convertibility of one form of money into another. (vhl. here)

The monetisation of debt by the banks corresponds to the division of bank balance sheets into a list of assets, which includes commercial loans, and a list of liabilities, which includes banknotes. The banks are not mere lenders of money, but capitalist institutions that carry out money trading and lend money capital. The cycle of financial capital complementary to industrial capital is discussed by Marx in Capital Volume 3. The difference between short-term and long-term loans is secondary to the unity of the market for monetary resources. The differences between the capital market with long-term credits and the money market with short-term credits are subsumed in a unified theory of the monetary market, where the supply of money is mainly provided by the banks for a certain price. One result of the unity of the monetary market is the interest rate – it is through it that monetary resources are provided for the industrial capitalists’ demand for money.

For the analysis of the modern organization of credit, Marx uses the term system. This is the consequence of the distinction between money and goods, productive capital and monetary capital, industrial and financial capital. Financial capital is monetary capital that serves financial operations. Historically, it originates from the gold trade and foreign trade. Modern credit reduces the cost of circulation, accelerates the production of the average profit rate in the various branches of industry, mobility and circulation of goods and capital. In the money market, creditors and debtors meet each other only with regard to the commodity money. Money capital is concentrated and monopolized by the banks. The bank represents the centralization of the money capital of creditors and debtors. Their deposits, in turn, are in a specific relationship to the loans and reserves they hold at the central bank.

The monetary system has three components: Banks and (industrial) enterprises in their relationship to the central bank, which issues banknotes and guarantees the reciprocal convertibility of the various forms of money – in addition to the banknotes, the various flows of credit that circulate between the banks themselves and between banks and enterprises. At the level of the national market

According to Brunhoff, credit money no longer needs to be fully convertible with gold money, so that the reference of money to gold is lost here in a permanent movement of confrontation and modification of equivalences. She writes:

The structure of means of payments is dominated by the role of central money which guarantees the homogeneity of moneys even though these are issued in decentralized fashion starting from an indefinite series of private relations between banks and borrowers. The centralisation of the guarantee of convertibility goes hand in hand with the decentralisation of issue.

This is why the very notion of monetary mass can only have meaning relative to the workings of a system of credit in which different kinds of money are combined. Without such a system, one would have only a sum of means of payment that would have no access to the social character of the general equivalent and would only serve in the local private circuits. Only in the centralised system can the different kinds of money become homogeneous and appear as the components of an articulated whole (MoM 124)

The distinction between industrial and financial capitalists implies the interest rate that the banks, as lenders of money capital, demand from the industrial capitalists; the profit of the banks consists first of the difference in the interest rates at which they lend and borrow money. For Marx, the category of interest rate is based on the relationship between the supply and demand of money capital, which is as distinct from productive capital as money is distinct from commodities. The division of the average total profit into corporate profit and interest thus depends on the supply and demand of financial resources, on the balance of power between creditors and debtors. The interest rate cannot therefore be zero and cannot be higher than the average profit rate. The establishment of a uniform interest rate is a purely empirical act. There is no general law to be reported here, but the competition between the different capital fractions is the reason for the division between interest and corporate profit. Interest is not the price of capital, it does not express the intrinsic value of capital, credit includes real money for the industrial capitalist and is a property title for the financial capitalist; it is based on the distinction between productive capital and monetary capital. The latter is unproductive, but is essential for the circulation of capital. Credit is a cycle that is dissolved by repayment, although it is negotiable on the markets. In defining interest as part of profit, Marx goes so far as to neglect the risks, expectations and calculations of creditors and debtors that are relevant to credit.

The banks centralise money in so far as it is based on the circularity of the system. Because of the deposits, banknotes and their return, the banks can close the cycle and reproduce themselves by reconstituting their financial base. Marx mentions two main functions of banks, the issuing of monetary capital and the monetization of debt. The latter is linked to a uniform interest rate; the former depends on the amount of money capital in relation to demand. These two functions involve a financial cycle and together they constitute assets and liabilities in the system as a whole. Bank balance sheets represent the complementary nature of the different financial circuits.

However, banks not only lend money, they also create fiat money by issuing loans. In doing so, the assets generally tend to become fictitious. Credit money is quasi dematerialized when it becomes a pure instrument of circulation, and the cycle is thus not to be understood through hoarding, but solely as the result of its circular form. For Brunhoff, the fiat money created by the commercial banks is always closely related to economic cycles and business cycles:

"[T]he notion of the money supply does not have meaning as a global quantity emanating from a sector of financing more or less homogeneous to other economic sectors, or as the specific product of a group of financial agents of which one could reconstitute the economic motivations. Its signification should be sought at the level of particular conjunctures, where a 'supply' is only formed in relation to a monetary policy [politique monétaire], so that there is no purely economic phenomenon disclosable as the money supply, independently of a political 'over-determination'" (MoM 12)

According to Brunhoff, the concept of speculation has a broad meaning for Marx; it includes the purchases and sales of industrial and commercial capitalists, whether they are short-term material

make investments or invest the money in financial operations or even make long-term investments. The expansion of credit is first of all an effect before it becomes a reason for the speculation of industrial and commercial capital. Then the financial speculation takes place at its own level and feeds the financial boom by increasing the demand for money capital and by increasing the interest rate. Marx does this in capital only in the context of the effects of credit operations in terms of the division of assets and their redistribution among all capitalists. Marx does mention the function of expectations for the rise in the fall of commodity prices and collateral. But he does not examine them in terms of their serious effects on the speculative phenomenon. In general, the notion of speculation includes “all options” in relation to a result that is not directly produced but arises from the expectations of the actors. In contrast, Marx is interested in the effects of speculative options on the redistribution of monetary resources.

In Starting Points, Brunhoff develops, in the context of the dissimulation of money and credit, first starting points for an analysis of financial cycles and monetary crises, for the fragility of the credit system, its speculative mania, for the policies of the state to support the banks and the corresponding quantitative easing, and not least for the corresponding austerity policies.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

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