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The Endless Crisis: How Monopoly-Finance Capital Produces Stagnation and Upheaval from the USA to China [Kindle Edition]

Robert W. McChesney , John Bellamy Foster

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"In the distinguished tradition of Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy, Foster and McChesney here combine grim analysis with bleak prognosis, reminding us that monopoly power disappeared from the textbooks but not from real life. This is a useful book for anyone raised on the reflexive American optimism of the post-war years."-James K. Galbraith, author of Inequality and Instability: A Study of the World Economy Just Before the Great Crisis


The days of boom and bubble are over, and the time has come to understand the long-term economic reality. Although the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009, hopes for a new phase of rapid economic expansion were quickly dashed. Instead, growth has been slow, unemployment has remained high, wages and benefits have seen little improvement, poverty has increased, and the trend toward more inequality of incomes and wealth has continued. It appears that the Great Recession has given way to a period of long-term anemic growth, which Foster and McChesney aptly term the Great Stagnation.


This incisive and timely book traces the origins of economic stagnation and explains what it means for a clear understanding of our current situation. The authors point out that increasing monopolization of the economy—when a handful of large firms dominate one or several industries—leads to an over-abundance of capital and too few profitable investment opportunities, with economic stagnation as the result. Absent powerful stimuli to investment, such as historic innovations like the automobile or major government spending, modern capitalist economies have become increasingly dependent on the financial sector to realize profits. And while financialization may have provided a temporary respite from stagnation, it is a solution that cannot last indefinitely, as instability in financial markets over the last half-decade has made clear.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 1944 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 239 Seiten
  • Verlag: Monthly Review Press (1. September 2012)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
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Amazon.com: 4.7 von 5 Sternen  13 Rezensionen
31 von 32 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Luminosity, Brilliance from Monthly Review 27. Oktober 2012
Von Hans G. Despain - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
This is a must read book in political economy. It is a very sophisticated and innovative argument accessible to a general audience and will be of great interest to the expert.

This book follows off of the success of Foster and Fred Magdoff's "Great Financial Crisis" The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences. Whereas, the Foster and Magadoff book literally predicted in 2005-6 the financial collapse in 2007-8, "The Endless Crisis" predicts the problems are quite insolvable within the institutional design of Monopoly Capital.

The entrepreneurial function of society, fulfilled by financial institutions via the distribution of money as loans, radically depends on speculation. Speculation can be geared toward actual productive activity or toward simply making money from the change of stock/asset price. J.M. Keynes argued during a bubble speculation from changing prices drives the economy and dominantes production. Post-Keynesian best understand this aspect of Keynes and have developed the most important theory of the nature of money, noxious speculation, and the instability of capitalism as a function of finance (see Minsky's Stabilizing an Unstable Economy, Wray's Modern Money Theory: A Primer on Macroeconomics for Sovereign Monetary Systems, Hudson's THE BUBBLE AND BEYOND, and Graeber's Debt). The authors of "The Endless Crisis", John Bellamy Foster and Robert W. McChesney endorse the Post-Keynesian theories of money and financial instability.

But Foster and McChesney argue much more.

Foster and McChesney, follow very closely the work of economists Paul Sweezy, Paul Baran, and Harry Magdoff (see Monopoly Capital: An Essay on the American Economic and Social Order; and Economic History as it Happened (Stagnation and the Financial Explosion)(volume IV). The three primary arguments are the theory of "Monopoly Capital," the theory of "stagnation" and their theory of "financialization."

The theory of Monopoly Capital is quite straight forward and consistent with the historical analysis of Joseph Schumpeter Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy and Karl Marx (see chapter 25 of Capital: Volume 1: A Critique of Political Economy. In brief the argument is that competition leads to a lack of competition via the competitive process itself. The most efficient and market aggressive firms out compete the less efficient and market passive firms. The competitive process or what Marx called the accumulation process leads to successful capitalist firms getting bigger and bigger as these firms "concentrate" the capital of the industry. Next they "centralize" the industry via outcompeting and mergering with competitors. In this sense Monopolization is the logical outcome of competition.

Monopoly Capital is a remarkably successful profit generating form. The result of this remarkably success of oligopolistic corporate hegemony is large sales and revenue, economies of scales (or lower average costs) and massive profits. Reinvestment becomes a quite serious issue. What does a successful oligopolistic corporation (e.g. Ford, Coca Cola, etc.) do with all of its profits, when sales of its primary product are in every household (e.g. cars, soda, etc.). The four main possibilities is to share the profits with its labor force (not a common option in the last four decades), conglomerate (investment in other industries), expand overseas (according to David Harvey, Foster and McCheseny, a form of new imperialism), or financialization of the company's efforts, by either forming a financial arm within the conglomeration (e.g. GM and GMAC) or hire a broker firm to financialize your profits (such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, etc.).

The principal problem for Monopoly Capital and its massive profits is a lack of reinvestment opportunities. There simply are not enough profitable investment opportunities to absorb all of the investment seeking desires. Thus the result is that (a) profits do not get reinvested, (b) profits are reinvested overseas, and/or (c) financial bubbles are generated because too much money (profits and surplus value) is chasing too few fruitful investment projects.

Thus, the Normal state of Monopoly Capital is respectively to the above sentence (a) Stagnation, (b) New Imperialism/International Oligopolistic Hegemony, and (c) financial bubbles. The lack of these phenomena is unlikely and very unusual.

Foster and McCheseny have been beating a very important political economy drum for several decades. The recent historical conditions have certainly made their efforts urgently relevant and important. Moreover, they offer the most accessible and a highly innovative theory of why these financial crises cannot be solved, and why every politician who has ever promised to end financial crises has failed. Foster and McCheseny demonstrate Keynesian "New New Deal politics" are wrongheaded and any return to laissez-faire ideology is to give up on the American historical dream of democracy and hand over the governance of the nation to 2500 corporations and create a political oligarchy and economic tyranny.

A must read!
9 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A must read 21. Dezember 2012
Von Jordan Besek - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
"The Endless Crisis" is by far the best analysis of contemporary global economic processes I have yet to read. In the deluge of books on the subject - especially those dealing with the economic crisis of the past half decade, it seems to me that only Foster and McChesney are able to place their analysis in proper historical context, able to base their analysis on proper material circumstance, and are beholden to no irrational policy agenda. The result is a work that is unrivaled in clarity and force, and one that also serves as a wonderful introduction to the Monthly Review school through analysis of contemporary affairs.
While most other accounts focus on globalization, the slowing down of economic growth rates and/or the financialization of the world economy; most miss the essential fact that monopoly capital is perhaps the driving force shaping contemporary economic processes. Monopoly here is not understood as a dominant single seller, but rather as firms that - through processes of concentration (accumulation proper) and centralization (absorption of one capital by another) - are able to exercise sufficient market power to influence price, output, investment and thus limit competition. This tendency towards monopoly capital is in general the logical result of capitalist competition as larger capitals almost always dominant the smaller, and the more capital can secure accumulation through creating barriers to others the more barriers will be created. From this foundation globalization, the slowing down of economic growth rates and the financialization of the world economy are analyzed. We see how the ostensible renewed competition brought on by globalization is much less competitive than supposed, how the slowing down of growth rates (stagnation) is the predictable result of a monopolized and over-productive system and how financialization is driven by this slowing down of growth rates - leading to a(n endless) stagnation-financialization trap and greater inequality. Importantly, Foster and McChesney humanize these processes through analysis of what they mean for labor - the volume includes chapters on what they call "the global reserve army of labor" as well as a chapter on what stagnation means for labor in the increasingly unstable assembler of world production, China.
This book serves many purposes. It is a clear and thorough analysis of the economic crisis as it arose from material history, it is an introduction to the Monthly Review school written by its most important active adherents, and it is introduction to many of the most relevant Marxian concepts through contemporary examples. It will be useful to the experienced economic thinker as well as those who want an introduction to political economy. In other words - if you are wavering between a couple books on the economic crisis, this is the one to get.
9 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A welcome diagnosis of economic crisis 12. Dezember 2012
Von Systemic Disorder - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Authors John Bellamy Foster and Robert W. McChesney marshal an impressive collection of material to present an understanding of the capitalist dynamics that have brought the world to its present state of crisis and why that is the natural outcome of these dynamic forces, examining the crisis from a global perspective.

They argue persuasively that, in the absence of dramatic innovations such as the automobile or the steam engine, which have not occurred for several decades, stagnation is the expected norm, particularly in "mature" capitalist economies. Nor will hoped-for demand from "emerging" economies such as China and India be able to make up for stagnant demand in the advanced capitalist countries. China and India contain too large a reserve army of underemployed labor for wages to substantially increase there; therefore Chinese and Indian consumption will not be a path out of world economic crisis as many orthodox economists and political leaders have hoped, according to The Endless Crisis.

Orthodox economics, dominated by rigid Chicago School thinking, completely failed to predict the financial meltdown and subsequent stagnation. The reason for that lies in orthodox economics existing as an ideological campaign that long ago severed itself from analyzing the real world. In strong contrast, The Endless Crisis explodes ideological myth-making.

The book is a very needed departure from the usual apologetics for capitalist outcomes. The authors provide a single source for understanding the present economic impasse, laying out with devastating precision the reasons for the economic crisis, the inevitability of crisis, the inequality and instability inherent in the capitalist system, and the need to move to a more humane system.
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen A pertinent lucid analysis of capitalist stagnation, due to lack of effective demand, in the age of financialization 25. Februar 2013
Von A Classical-Keynesian Sraffian Marxist - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
A pertinent lucid analysis of capitalist stagnation, due to lack of effective demand, in the age of financialization, in the tradition of Keynes, Kalecki, Paul Baran, and Paul Sweezy. One critique is how the authors paint Minsky, in particular, as sort of a mainstream economist who attacked Keynes for placing the analysis of financial implosion in the long-run, not specifically with respect to short-run cyclical rhythms. This is a bit harsh (if not unfounded), for it can be argued that Minski was contributing to long-run analysis by assessing the degree to which excessive de-leveraging after speculative-led consumption bubbles causes a doubling over of contradictions in a downward spiral of deflation, ensuing a normal unemployment equilibrium (i.e. a steady state of capitalist stagnation)
5 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Overaccumulation-Underconsumption-Financialization-Global Stagnation 30. Mai 2013
Von Utah Man - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Over-accumulation stemming from the so-called golden age of global capitalism has ensued an era of underconsumption as exemplified by low profit rates and chronic excess capacity. At the same time, a transformation has taken place in which financial markets have greatly expanded and put increased pressure on nonfinancial corporations (NFCs) to generate increasing earnings, and distribute these to financial market elites. This has established what Crotty has called the era of the `neoliberal paradox:' while unable to effectively absorb economic surpluses due to lack of effective demand, material producers are forced to pay an increasing share of their internal funds to monopolized financial instituions - monopoly power now reflects the subservience of captains of industry to powerful bankers, whereas before, as Baran & Sweezy famously detailed, the relationship was reversed. Since financial markets are, by their very nature, unstable - as Minsky highlighted - long-term corporate growth orientation is left to short-term survivalist strategies of maximizing `shareholder value.' This short-termist perspective, the authors superbly argue, exacerbates the inherent instability of investment demand, exponentially increasing global financial fragility that ensues devastating consequences for both centre and periphery in the world economy.
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