Differentiating Land Rent: Prolegomenon to exploring geography in capitalist dynamics

Authors: Marshall Feldman*, University of Rhode Island
Topics: Economic Geography, Socialist and Critical Geographies, Historical Geography
Keywords: rent, capitalism, land, macrodynamics, stock-flow consistent models
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 23
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Economic geography frequently uses “rent” as a generic term covering any revenue from asset ownership. This paper returns to the term's origin as specifically land rent, which it differentiates from other “rents.” It has three goals.

First, to diminish disciplinary barriers by combining geographical political economy and heterodox economics. The paper combines complementary heterodox economic traditions with economic geography to analyze land rent, a frequent focal point of geographic political economy largely ignored by economists, particularly heterodox economists.

Second, to differentiate land-based assets (LBAs) from other asset classes and sharpen the distinction between land rent and other economic rents. The analysis successively considers land, land rent, historical class-motivated institutional configurations of land ownership, land-based financial asset classes, and expansion of debt. Unlike most other asset classes, geography is at the core of the LBA class, and this geographic characteristic distinguishes it from most other asset classes and gives LBAs more complex dynamics. This distinction also highlights how specific consideration of land rent can illuminate important dynamics in contemporary capitalism.

Finally, the paper incorporates land rent and LBAs into a series of heuristic balance sheets ("Godley tables"). In this sense, the paper studies geographical land rent IN capitalist dynamics rather than the geography OF land rent under capitalism. Echoing Quesnay's pioneering work 250 years ago, the paper open new pathways for further research and suggests a more dialectical approach in which geography is not just the product of capitalist dynamics, but also an intrinsic driving, contradictory force within them.

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