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The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences

The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences

The bursting of the housing bubble and the ensuing financial debacle have left most people, including many economists and financial experts asking: Why did this happen? If they had been reading Monthly Review, and were familiar with such articles as “The Household Debt Bubble,” “The Explosion of Debt and Speculation,” and “The Financialization of Capitalism,” they would not have needed to ask. In their new book, The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences, Monthly Review editor John Bellamy Foster and long-time Monthly Review contributor, Fred Magdoff, update this analysis, exploring the whole course of what is now known as “the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression”: from the debt explosion and housing bubble to the subprime debacle and federal bailout. They argue that this latest financial crash, although greater than any since 1929, is itself a symptom of deeper problems connected to the stagnation of the “real” or productive economy of mature capitalism. Financial bubbles have become the chief means of countering stagnation, but these inevitably burst, bringing the underlying economic problems back to the surface. The only recourse of the system: new and bigger bubbles, leading, as they too pop, to still greater financial crises and worsening conditions of production—in what has now become a vicious cycle. | more…

April 2004 (Volume 55, Number 11)

Notes from the Editors

This is the fourth in a continuing series of special issues on the economy to which we have devoted the magazine each April since 2001. In the first of these, written shortly before the 2001 recession began, we took on the then prevalent myth of the “New Economy,” arguing that it was more myth than reality, and dispelling the notion that high tech and rising productivity gains had somehow tamed the business cycle. In April 2002 we dedicated the Review of the Month to examining the core economic contradictions of the system in terms of “Slow Growth, Excess Capital, and a Mountain of Debt.” Last April we asked the question, “What Recovery?” and focused on the fact that the recovery had failed to spread to employment, and on the whole problem of labor underutilization—inquiring into how the economy managed to keep going at all under these circumstances. | more…

Global Economic Crisis, Neoliberal Solutions, and the Philippines

The economic crisis that has been affecting the global economy for the last two and a half years started in East Asia. We’ve heard story after story about the problems in Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, and even Japan—but we’ve heard almost nothing about the situation in the Philippines. Is there something that the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank don’t want us to know about the situation there?  | more…

The Geopolitics of the Asian Crisis

The Chinese character for “crisis” combines the ideas of danger and opportunity. In the span of about one year, a regional economic “miracle,” with its promise of continued high economic growth and opportunity for all, was transformed into a severe regional, and potentially global, economic collapse. It has seriously endangered the livelihood of millions of people, causing untold misery and suffering  | more…

December 1998 (Volume 50, Number 7)

Notes from the Editors

Back in 1972, when one of us was living in Toronto, the Canadian national hockey team played a series of much publicized games against the Soviet Union. Horror of horrors, the Soviet team started winning. The defeat of Canada’s favorites at its own national sport, and, worst of all, at the hands of Communists, was an occasion for some deep national soul-searching in the mainstream press. There were some astonishing editorials, which came very close to questioning the fundamental values of capitalism if it could so weaken the moral fiber of Canadians as to lead them to defeat by the Communist adversary at their very own game  | more…

June 1998 (Volume 50, Number 2)

Notes from the Editors

What’s the matter with Japan? According to today’s conventional wisdom—i.e., what we are told by the media and the syndicated pundits—almost everything. Its economy, the second largest in the world, is in a long-term crisis that affects on everyone else, most severely the United States, and it stubbornly refuses to do anything about it despite the friendly advice and frustrated pleas of its partners in the developed capitalist world.

What do they want Japan to do? Simple: they want Japan to “be like us.” Open its markets, deregulate its financial and trading systems, and then step on the economic accelerator—reduce taxes, especially on the higher incomes,

March 1998 (Volume 49, Number 10)

Notes from the Editors

A striking feature of the mountain of talk about the Asian crisis is that its root cause is all too often ignored The focus of the media and the pundits is on weak banks, bad management, corrupt officials, heavy indebtedness, excess speculation, and the fragility of the financial markets. Typically, the disaster is viewed as a regional affair. A rare exception is the statement of Eisuke Sakakibara, Japan’s vice-minister for international finance: “This isn’t an Asian crisis. It is a crisis of global capitalism.” (Business Week, January 26, 1998) But he too was apparently thinking of financial markets, concerned with effects, not causes  | more…

The Irreversible Crisis (Economic History As It Happened, Vol. V)

The Irreversible Crisis (Economic History As It Happened, Vol. V)

The economies of the capitalist world-individually and as part of a closely knit global system-have been in an ongoing state of crisis since the early 1970s when the long post World War II boom finally came to an end. This crisis has gone through several phases but has not at any time shown signs of giving way to a renewed long wave of prosperity. | more…

Stagnation and the Financial Explosion (Economic History As It Happened, Vol. IV)

Stagnation and the Financial Explosion (Economic History As It Happened, Vol. IV)

This is the fourth in the magisterial series of essays by the former editors of Monthly Review on the state of the U.S. economy and its relation to the global system. Like its predecessors, this volume focuses on the development of U.S. capitalism as it takes place, and covers the 1980s. The authors stress the profound contradictions of the underlying processes of capital accumulation and identify, before any other economic commentators, the immense implications of the use of the explosion of debt to attempt to solve the problems presented by the underlying stagnation in the real economy. | more…

The Deepening Crisis of U.S. Capitalism (Economic History As It Happened, Vol. III)

The Deepening Crisis of U.S. Capitalism (Economic History As It Happened, Vol. III)

This is the third book of essays on the United States and the world economy produced by the fruitful collaboration of Monthly Review editors Paul M. Sweezy and Harry Magdoff. In these essays, written between 1977 and 1981, the authors assess the results of efforts taken to stabilize the economy after the epochal changes of the early 1970s, the end of capitalism’s “golden age,” by attempts to counteract the effects of inflation, debt dependence, speculation, and financial instability. | more…

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