UK Accounting Glossary
An economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.
Capitalism is a market-driven economy, characterized by private ownership and use of resources owned for profit without restrictions. Individuals and businesses have the right to own all material resources. Capitalism gives them free control in the production, allocation and consumption of resources for generating income, profit, and wealth. The hallmark of capitalism is the free market concept, which allows open competition to achieve these goals. Practitioners of capitalism believe that markets are efficient enough to make independent decisions on matters like investments, production, distribution, income, and prices. Thus capitalism discourages any direct involvement of the state in the markets. The role of the government in capitalism is to provide regulation, infrastructure, and protection, to perpetuate capitalist economy, privacy, and freedom. Adam Smith, regarded as the father of capitalism, wrote of the role of enlightened self-interest (aka the “invisible hand”).
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This glossary post was last updated: 4th February 2020.