Friday November 28th, 2014, 10:36 pm (EST)

The Endless Crisis reviewed in The Progressive Populist

The Endless Crisis

BOOK REVIEW / Seth Sandronsky

Monopoly Matters

The Great Recession has ended, unlike slow/no growth. For a deeper sense of why, get a copy of The Endless Crisis: How Monopoly-Finance Capital Produces Stagnation and Upheaval from the USA to China by John Bellamy Foster and Robert W. McChesney.

The duo of scholars and professors connect the dots in a radical critique of modern-day capitalism. Theirs is a rigorous analysis, empirical and theoretical, of the twin trends of slowing growth and growing tumult.

With charts and tables, a preface, introduction, six chapters, notes and an index, Foster and McChesney provide a primer on the global system’s crisis that helps readers to get a handle on how and why things are falling apart, economically and environmentally. To this end, they break new ground with their insights on financial markets, and corporate monopolies and investment.

According to the authors: “An economy in which decisions on savings and investment are made privately tends to fall into a stagnation trap; existing demand is insufficient to absorb all of the actual and potential savings (or surplus) available, output falls, and there is no automatic mechanism that generates full recovery.” These processes proceed as the conventional economic wisdom holds that government spending is what ails the system.

Foster and McChesney provide an in-depth look at the evolution of monopoly capital to monopoly-finance capital. In this way, they provide fresh analysis about financial bubbles and their centrality to economic woes.

How did financial speculation overtake industrial production as the main motor of capital accumulation? Their second chapter sheds much light on the question, writing in the tradition of Marxist theorists Paul Baran, Harry Magdoff and Paul Sweezy.

Further, Foster and McChesney review the relevant work of Marx and Keynes. In this way, the authors highlight the forces and factors behind slow growth and corporate control over economic activity that reduces outlets for profitable investments that, ultimately, flow into financial services.

Wonder why the role of small business in the US economy was center stage in the recent presidential debates? For Foster and McChesney, this emphasis inverts reality.

As they show in chapter three, big corporations dominate global industries, from aircraft and auto to banks, computers, media, pharmaceuticals and retail now. Foster and McChesney’s supporting evidence makes clear this rising tendency of monopolization (sales, shipments, revenue and gross profits), and its role in the rise of the financial realm of the economy….

Read the entire review in The Progressive Populist

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