This book examines “the great contraction” of 2007–2010 within the context of the neoliberal globalization that began in the early 1980s. This new phase of capitalism greatly enriched the top 5 percent of Americans, including capitalists and financial managers, but at a significant cost to the country as a whole. Declining domestic investment in manufacturing, unsustainable household debt, rising dependence on imports and financing, and the growth of a fragile and unwieldy global financial structure threaten the strength of the dollar. Unless these trends are reversed, the authors predict, the U.S. economy will face sharp decline.
Summarizing a large amount of troubling data, the authors show that manufacturing has declined from 40 percent of GDP to under 10 percent in thirty years. Since consumption drives the American economy and since manufactured goods comprise the largest share of consumer purchases, clearly we will not be able to sustain the accumulating trade deficits.
Rather than blame individuals, such as Greenspan or Bernanke, the authors focus on larger forces. Repairing the breach in our economy will require limits on free trade and the free international movement of capital; policies aimed at improving education, research, and infrastructure; reindustrialization; and the taxation of higher incomes.
This original and rigorous political-economic discussion of neoliberal global capitalism shows how deep the roots of the current crisis are and how stubbornly resistant it will be to conventional policy remedies.
An ambitious and original treatment of the ongoing global economic crisis. Duménil and Lévy provide both an in-depth statistical and historical narrative and an overarching analytical framework.
The Crisis of Neoliberalism is an insightful account of the factors that have led to the economic downturn. As Duménil and Lévy make clear, the economy cannot just return to its pre-crisis path.
French economists Gérard Duménil and Dominique Lévy proceed from the somewhat heterodox proposition that ruling ideas arise not from their persuasive power or inner logic but from the interest of ruling groups… Duménil and Lévy move directly to the social and political history that led us to this turn, the underlying situation in which such intellectually bankrupt ideas could prevail. And what might become of a world that can no longer sustain such beliefs… Though elements of their analysis proceed (in their words) 'à la Marx,' the book is scarcely what one might thereby expect—that is, the opposite of [an] unreflective apologia for capitalism's premises… The two argue…that neoliberalism is not a collection of theories meant to improve the economy. Instead, it should be understood as a class strategy designed to redistribute wealth upward toward an increasingly narrow fraction of folks. This transfer is undertaken, they argue, with near indifference to what happens below some platinum plateau—even as the failures and contradictions of the economic system inevitably drive the entire structure toward disaster. Duménil and Lévy offer two provocative and interlocking schemas. They decline the bluntest of Marxist oppositions, which supposes a world divided only between owners and workers. But they equally abjure the endless proliferation of categories and distinctions, the slippery slope of micro-differences that leads to the paradoxical homily of conventional American thought: that individuals are just that, and thereby classless—and that everybody is middle-class. One might well see in this the shadow of Thatcher's other hyperbolic dictum of neoliberalism: 'There is no such thing as society. There are only individuals and families.'
Amid the torrent of books on the 2008 financial meltdown and the North Atlantic 'great recession,' this important new contribution from Paris stands out as an analytical beacon… Duménil and Lévy conclude with a comparison of the aftermaths of 1929 and 2008, an assessment of the significance of the crisis for U.S. hegemony and some sober prognoses on the social and economic order likely to emerge in its wake. The authors aspire to the kind of influence that Baran and Sweezy achieved with Monopoly Capital some forty years ago—and on this reading, they deserve it. Like Monopoly Capital, the analytical framework of Crisis of Neoliberalism uses some Marxian categories and language, but leavened with (often implicit) elements of Veblen, Chandler, Galbraith, Keynes and Polanyi. The result is a highly distinctive—and compellingly radical—approach, which demands serious attention… By any measure, The Crisis of Neoliberalism is a landmark intervention in the post-crisis debates… Young workers or students who have had the misfortune to enter the labor force during the Great Recession will require a far-reaching education in the history of capitalist crises if they are to begin to craft an alternative exit from the present one. This book should help.
- 400 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
From this author
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