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Economic Theory

Bend of Jinsha River at Shigu village, Yulong Naxi autonomous county in Lijiang, Southwest China's Yunnan province

The Ecological State

Although natural constraints on supply are important, most economic scarcities that rule our lives are actually social and artificial. Supply and demand are not natural forces drifting through the air; they are contrived realities established by an interactive social environment involving governments, corporations, institutions, and classes. Supply and demand cycles are social constructs designed to answer a basic question: Who gets what? | more…

Hyman Minsky

Hyman Minsky at 100: Was Minsky a Communist?

Since the Great Financial Crisis of 2007–09, Hyman Minsky (1919–96) has been widely recognized as one of the late twentieth century’s most insightful economic theorists. Nevertheless, if Minsky had still been alive at the time of the Great Financial Crisis, there would have been little likelihood that his new-found reputation would have resulted in his receiving the Nobel Prize in Economics given his heterodox and socialist economic views. | more…

Monthly Review Volume 71, Number 9 (February 2020)

February 2020 (Volume 71, Number 9)

Notes from the Editors

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy is experiencing an unemployment rate that is at a fifty-year low. Yet, wage growth continues to be weak, with continuing wage stagnation even at the peak of the business cycle. A major and largely undertheorized reason for the sluggish wages in a period of seeming full employment is to be found in the fact that the new jobs being created by the economy do not measure up to those of the past in terms of weekly wages and hours, or in the degree to which they support households or even individuals. | more…

Polish students, their teachers and others gather in front of universities to protest in March 1968

Liberated Capitalism

An interview with Henryk Szlajfer by Grzegorz Konat. Szlajfer was a leading figure in the student uprisings in Poland in March 1968. He was expelled from the University of Warsaw and was arrested and imprisoned for political dissent. He later conducted research in political economy focusing on the theory of monopoly capitalism, where he made major contributions, and coedited The Faltering Economy with John Bellamy Foster. | more…

Free Public Transit cover

Free Public Transit

Free Public Transit: And Why We Don’t Pay to Ride Elevators, edited by Judith Dellheim and Jason Prince, gives readers a distinctive blend of the visionary and the practical. It surprises us with rarely publicized instances in which quite sweeping societal transformations have been carried out. The matter-of-fact narratives, covering a wide span of national settings, allow us to envision new angles from which to confront some of the key issues of our time, from employment to civility to the rescue of the natural environment. | more…

Monthly Review Volume 71, Number 6 (November 2019)

November 2019 (Volume 71, Number 6)

Notes from the Editors

Immanuel Wallerstein, the celebrated world-systems theorist and longtime contributor to Monthly Review and Monthly Review Press, died on August 31, 2019. Wallerstein first achieved international fame with the publication in 1974 of his The Modern World-System: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century (the first in a four-volume masterwork on the Modern World-System. We pay tribute to Wallerstein in this new issue of Monthly Review. | more…


Owning Financialization

In the Notes from the Editors of the January 2019 issue of Monthly Review, the editors commented on a blog post by Michael Roberts on the term financialization. In the first part of this short exchange Roberts questions whether financialization is a meaningful and useful term, or simply a distraction from a comprehensive critique contemporary capitalism. | more…

Wall Street, New York, United States. Photo by Woldai Wagner.

The Critique of Financialization

A Reply to Michael Roberts

There has been a tendency within liberal analysis of financialization to place an emphasis on the trees, that is, the various speculative mechanisms, rather than the forest, or the growth of finance in relation to production. The reason for this stress on the trees rather than the forest is that, in contemporary capitalist ideology, financialization cannot be brought seriously into question since it is part of the entire architecture of accumulation. | more…

Wall Street's Think Tank: The Council on Foreign Relations and the Empire of Neoliberal Geopolitics, 1976-2018 by Laurence H. Shoup (New in paperback, with Afterword)

Wall Street’s Think Tank: The Council on Foreign Relations and the Empire of Neoliberal Geopolitics, 1976-2019 (New in paperback, with Afterword)

The Council on Foreign Relations is the world’s most powerful private foreign-policy think tank and membership organization. Dominated by Wall Street, it claims among its members a high percentage of past and present top U.S. government officials as well as corporate leaders and influential figures in the fields of education, media, law, and nonprofit work. Wall Street’s Think Tank follows the Council on Foreign Relations from the 1970s to the present, and this new paperback edition includes an Afterword discussing the Trump Administration and the Council. | more…

Idle workers at Ford Motor Company's Van Dyke transmission plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan in December, 2018

Economic Surplus, the Baran Ratio, and Capital Accumulation

In 1957, in the Political Economy of Growth, Paul Baran made a seminal contribution to our understanding of the connection between economic surplus—a concept he introduced into the development discussion—and growth. Given that the ruling class controls the surplus of society, how the surplus is used—whether it is invested, consumed, or simply wasted—is at its discretion. The effective utilization of surplus implies a reasonable rate of capital accumulation and economic development. In the following study of the utilization of surplus I compare the size of surplus and gross capital formation in a variety of countries starting from the mid–nineteenth century. | more…

Rosa Luxemburg

The Social Character of Value

In this excerpt from The Accumulation of Capital, Rosa Luxemburg explains how classical political economy lacks a clear conception of the commodity—both in the terms of the distinctions between use value and exchange value, as well as between concrete and abstract labor. This metaphysical, essentialist framework leads to a complete failure to understand the social character of labor’s capacity to create value. | more…

Panoramic view at Shanghai Pudong from the Eton Hotel

On the Nature of the Chinese Economic System

There is considerable debate within China about the nature of the economy, including recognition of tendencies toward state capitalism. Consequently, most writers focus theorization of the many possible paths the economy could take—whether toward or away from capitalism. The present article takes a step further, arguing that the Chinese system today still contains some key components of socialism and is compatible with a market, or market-based, socialism that is clearly distinct from capitalism. | more…

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