Is There a European Capital? An Empirical Inquiry on Board Interlocks

Friday, June 24, 2016: 4:15 PM-5:45 PM
402 Barrows (Barrows Hall)
Cedric Durand, Paris 13, Paris, France
Tristan Auvray, University of Paris 13, Paris, France
The Mandel-Poulantzas debate of the seventies was one of the rare attempts in political economy to provide an explanation of the Long-term European integration rationale. For Mandel, an amalgamation of national capitals at the European level was necessary, as capitals in Europe have no other choice than to gather forces in order to survive the competition of US capital. He considered that the emergence of European proto-state was a side effect of this process of capital amalgamation. Poulantzas doubted this hypothesis, pointing out the growing imbrications between US and European capitals and the resilience of long term historical singularities reflected in the national state.

4 decades later, this contribution goes back to this old theoretical issue of the articulation of the space of the state and of the space of capital accumulation. Its first aims is thus to reexamine theoretically how the spatial organization could be defined which necessitates to revisit the very definition of the capitalist relations of production. In order to do so, one will go back to the Althusserian tradition of the early regulation school and, more specifically, to the relevance of the distinction between juridical property relations, economic property relations and possession relations (i.e. control over the labour process) and discuss critically this framework in the light of contemporary sociological Marxism of Burawoy and Wright.

On the basis of this conceptual framework, one will examine at the macro level the organization of capital in Europe, looking at ownership (nationality and kind of investor), board interlock networks of public-listed companies and trade interdependency.

In this communication, we is focused on Board interlocks. The analysis is based on two samples. One is a snapshot of the transnational board interlock in 2016 among more than 20 000 US and European corporations. The other contains more than 2000 firms and includes main corporations of European (Eurostoxx 600) and US (S&P 500) stock markets between 2005 and 2015. Traditional network measures are used to assess to what extent European transnational director network are transatlantic.

This analysis test the hypothesis of a growing internationalization of capital in Europe but a weak autonomy of European capital with deepening links with US capital. This hypothesis of a lack of European amalgamation bringing a possible explanatory factor to the difficulties to substantiate a European state is discussed in the light of our results.