The Phases of the Industrial Cycle (pt. 3)

The real industrial boom begins

The boom phase of the industrial cycle is of particular interest for crisis theory. It is only during the boom that capitalist expanded reproduction develops with full vigor. Therefore, it is the boom that develops the contradictions inherent in capitalist production to the point where they can only be resolved—only temporarily as long as capitalist production is retained—by a crisis.

I explained in the last post that during the phase of average prosperity, excess capacity is whittled away at both ends, so to speak, by the closing down of factories that will never again be profitable, and the reopening of factories and machinery that after write-downs can once again yield to the industrial capitalists the average rate of profit.

As the margin of excess capacity shrinks, the percentage of industry that is lying idle is reduced to such an extent that the industrial capitalists are forced to undertake massive investments in new factories packed with state-of-the-art machinery. The industrial capitalists do not want to see their margin of excess capacity shrink to zero. They want to maintain a certain margin of excess capacity so production can be quickly increased to meet any sudden rise in demand.

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