Derivatives, Money, Finance and Imperialism: A Response to Bryan and Rafferty

Historical Materialism 21 (2):149-168 (2013)
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This paper contributes to the debate on the role of financial derivatives for capitalism. It responds to Bryan and Rafferty’s defence of their analysis and their critique of my own. The paper argues that their analysis confuses what a financial derivative does, and mixes together different kinds of derivative – and non-derivative – that play very different roles. After detailing these points, the paper discusses the relationship between gold, money and derivatives, rejecting their notion that derivatives are some kind of new ‘commodity money’. An important theme absent from Bryan and Rafferty’s analysis is the relationship of financial trading and derivatives markets to parasitism in the imperialist world economy. To illustrate this, the paper notes advantages enjoyed by the major financial powers – the US and the UK – that are the main centres for the origination of derivatives and for derivatives trading.



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