Rentierism, Capitalist Competition and Neoliberalism: Toward a Veblenian Synthesis

- By Ahumada, Jose Miguel


The aim of this article is to analyze theoretically the relationship between rents and capitalist competition. The central hypothesis is that the production of rents is a process endogenous to capitalist competition and expands itself throughout various dimensions of economic life. To this end, the different conceptions of rents (classical, neoclassical and Schumpeterian) will be reviewed, and an institutionalist perspective on rents as income from institutionally-created scarce assets will be presented. To make this point, the case of the TRIPS agreement in the WTO will be analyzed as an example of the relationship between capitalist markets and institutional creation of scarcity from which patent rents emerge. Finally, this view of rents will be used to provide a theoretical analysis of how neoliberalism endogenously deepens current rents and creates new ones.