The paper tries to build a framework of the interconnections between income distribution and accumulation for the years after 1980. On the basis of this framework it is argued that it was primarily the weakening of the inducements to invest that improved the attractiveness of financial investments, rather than the other way round. The overall effect on investment of financial sector enlargement was negative, but for the reason that it contributed to bring about a change in income distribution unfavourable to the expansion of demand, while permitting only a temporary disconnection of demand from the distributive change. The reader's attention is then drawn to the element of continuity that can be detected between the current European economic policy of austerity and the process of substitution of loans for wages experienced by a large section of advanced capitalism up to the 2007 crisis. The article concludes on the question of long-run social stability within advanced capitalism.