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By themselves, index funds would never cause market socialism to come into existence. But their success should make it a lot easier to argue that a certain kind of market socialism can work.
More Thoughts on Market Socialism
The most important criticism of socialism historically has been that it is incapable of economic calculation. That is, we need markets and competition to create the sort of information that allows us to rationally allocate productive resources in society. Centrally-planned socialist economies lack a replacement mechanism to do this kind of economic calculation and are thus doomed to inefficiency and failure. Or so the argument goes. In response to the economic calculation argument, market socialists, most prominently Oskar Lange, proposed a number of simulated competition schemes that would produce useful allocation information without the need for private ownership of businesses and capital.
These schemes have never really been tried and have gone mostly ignored. Index funds are basically an extremely unequal version of some of these socialist simulated competition schemes and thus are a proof of concept for market socialism. To see why I say this, consider the three graphics below in which I move from our current index fund situation to a market socialist situation.
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While looking through these graphics, you should be asking yourself the question: at what point does economic calculation become a problem? At the top, we have the individuals that have money in the index fund.
Socialism, Market Socialism
These individuals are mostly rich people, especially if you weight it by how much money each person has in the fund. There are a few middle-class people in there, but no poor people.
In the middle we have an index fund, e. The hypothetical index fund here owns a market portfolio, meaning it is diversified across all the companies in the country.
The rise and fall of market socialism in Yugoslavia
In this next graphic, we have the exact same situation as the first one, except I have redistributed all of the money in the fund to everyone in society note the change on the top row :. Now, instead of the account holders in the index fund being mostly rich people, the account holders are everyone in the country, and the account holders all have an equal amount of money in the fund.
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Would this change make economic calculation impossible? Their behavior would not be altered in the slightest.
‘Market Socialism’ or ‘Market Capitalism’? | SpringerLink
Market socialism. Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. See Article History. You can learn more about this topic in the related articles below. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. All these economies existed in some degree of flux as their governments…. As the name implies, market socialism blends elements of a free-market economy with social ownership and control of property.