The Endless Crisis: How Monopoly-Finance Capital Produces Stagnation and Upheaval from the USA to China

The Endless Crisis: How Monopoly-Finance Capital Produces Stagnation and Upheaval from the USA to China

John Bellamy Foster

Language: English

Pages: 239

ISBN: B00ADNZXPG

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The days of boom and bubble are over, and the time has come to understand the long-term economic reality. Although the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009, hopes for a new phase of rapid economic expansion were quickly dashed. Instead, growth has been slow, unemployment has remained high, wages and benefits have seen little improvement, poverty has increased, and the trend toward more inequality of incomes and wealth has continued. It appears that the Great Recession has given way to a period of long-term anemic growth, which Foster and McChesney aptly term the Great Stagnation.

 

This incisive and timely book traces the origins of economic stagnation and explains what it means for a clear understanding of our current situation. The authors point out that increasing monopolization of the economy—when a handful of large firms dominate one or several industries—leads to an over-abundance of capital and too few profitable investment opportunities, with economic stagnation as the result. Absent powerful stimuli to investment, such as historic innovations like the automobile or major government spending, modern capitalist economies have become increasingly dependent on the financial sector to realize profits. And while financialization may have provided a temporary respite from stagnation, it is a solution that cannot last indefinitely, as instability in financial markets over the last half-decade has made clear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

creation of a vast and relatively autonomous financial superstructure on top of the productive base of the capitalist economy. Financial markets and institutions had, of course, evolved historically along with capitalism. But financial booms were typically short-term episodes coinciding with business cycle peaks, and lacked the independent character that they were to assume in the 1980S and 1990S. Thus, as Sweezy insightfully wrot e in 1994 in "The Triumph of Financial Capital": Traditionally,

a much broader set of consequences that can be described as "disaster capitalism" - evident in widening social and economic inequality, deepening instability, expanding militarism and war, and seemingly unstoppable planetary environmental destruction. Never before has the conflict between private appropriation and the social needs (even survival) of humanity been so stark.M CHAPTER 3 Monopoly and Competition in Twenty-FirstCentury Capitalism A STRIKING PARADOX ANIMATES political economy in

neoliberal discourse- one that has also penetrated the left - assumes that the tendency toward monopoly has been vanquished. In this narrative, as explained in the previous chapter, the oligopolistic structure of early post- Second World War capitalism in the Unit ed States and elsewhere was broken down and replaced by a new era of intense global competition. We do not intend to argue that those perceptions of growing global competition were all wrong. Rather, we suggest that renewed

emergence of a "new class" - though in reality it is the growing pauperized sector of the working class- termed the "precariat."61 At the bottom of this precariat developing in the rich countries are so-called "guest workers." As Marx noted, in the nineteenth century, capital in the wealthy centers is able to take advantage of lower-wage labor abroad either through capital migration to low-wage countries or through the migration of low-wage labor into rich countries. Although migrant labor

consumption in GDP- moving away from an economy that is dangerously over-reliant on investment and exports, characterized by an extreme deficiency in consumer demand, and increasingly showing signs of a real estate/financial bubble. But the very idea of such a fundamental rebalancing- on the gigantic scale required- raises the question of contradictions that lie at the center of the whole low-wage accumulation model that has come to characterize contemporary Chinese capitalism, along with its

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