Friday, February 22, 2013

What if stagnation is the norm?

The Endless Crisis: How Monopoly-Finance Capital Produces Stagnation and Upheaval from the USA to China (2012) is a rigorous critique of our economic system and the way contemporary economists analyze it. The authors are John Bellamy Foster, the editor of Monthly Review, and the political economist Robert McChesney.

Building on the work of Paul Sweezy (co-author of Monopoly Capital: An Essay on the American Economic and Social Order in 1966), Foster and McChesney further develop a theory of "monopoly-finance capital," in which profits are sought through financial speculation rather than production, in a system dominated by multinational corporations. Among the outcomes of such a system: financial bubbles and stagnation, as demand is insufficient to absorb investment capital.

Time does not permit a detailed review -- it's opening night for Our Town.  One achievement of this book is its data-based critique of our political economy and mainstream economic theories -- from the Chicago school to Keynes to Marx -- in terms that allow them to enter into a debate with the profession and our citizenry.  We need this.  Economics is not the sexiest material for the general reader, yet the implications bear directly on our lives and the parameters which determined the choices available to us.

The cold war is over and it is time for us to relax a bit and allow ourselves to examine our economic system, criticize it, and debate alternative ways of arranging things. 

That's my short review.  Gotta go. 

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