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The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences [Kindle Edition]

John Bellamy Foster , Fred Magdoff

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"A must read! Here is an excellent guide to understanding the role debt overload and the stagnation of the real economy played in the recent crisis, in the tradition of Sweezy and Magdoff."---Michael Perelman, California State University, Chico, and author of "Railroading Economics", "The Invention of Capitalism", and "The Confiscation of American Prosperity"


In the fall of 2008, the United States was plunged into a financial crisis more severe than any since the Great Depression. As banks collapsed and the state scrambled to organize one of the largest transfers of wealth in history, many—including economists and financial experts—were shocked by the speed at which events unfolded.

In this new book, John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff offer a bold analysis of the financial meltdown, how it developed, and the implications for the future. They examine the specifics of the housing bubble and the credit crunch as well as situate current events within a broader crisis of monopoly-finance capitalism—one that has been gestating for several decades. It is the "real" productive economy's tendency toward stagnation, they argue, that creates a need for capital to find ways to profitably invest its surplus. But rather than invest in socially useful projects that would benefit the vast majority, capital has constructed a financialized "casino" economy that neglects social needs and, as has become increasingly clear, is fatally unstable. Written over a two-year period immediately prior to the onset of the crisis, this timely and illuminating book is necessary reading for all those who wish to understand the current situation, how we got here, and where we are heading.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 970 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 161 Seiten
  • ISBN-Quelle für Seitenzahl: 1583671854
  • Verlag: Monthly Review Press (1. Januar 2009)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B00ARF25I8
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Nicht aktiviert
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #232.830 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.4 von 5 Sternen  25 Rezensionen
48 von 49 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen remarkably clear and thorough analysis of the financial crisis 19. Januar 2009
Von Alan G. Nasser Sr. - Veröffentlicht auf
I've been teaching the financialization of the US economy for some years now. It's not been easy to find a clear, thorough and convincing analysis of the tendency of the economy to shift from industrial production to financial speculation and other forms of debt as a source of business profits. The onset of the current financial crisis makes it more urgent to have available to both students and the general public a lucid and detailed explanation of what's happening and why. In my opinion, this book fits the bill. There's nothing else quite like it.

Foster and Magdoff's book makes the economic and political issues crystal clear without undue simplification. So, for those who suffer from "economics anxiety" this book is an oasis in a desert of dry, incomprehensible and often ideologically obfuscating economicspeak. The authors discuss the financialization of what was previously an industrial economy, the explosion of debt and speculation which followed the deindustrialization of America, the household debt bubble and how all this came to a head in the present meltdown.

The book is helpfully divided into two parts, the first discussing the causes of the meltdown, and the second describing and analyzing the consequences. Key terms such as securitization and derivatives are defined, the views of major economists from Milton Friedman to J.M. Keynes and Hyman Minsky are explained and, perhaps most importantly, there is an extensive analysis of the relation between the financial and the real, i.e. tangible-goods-and-services-producing, economies.

The authors demonstrate that the real economy is afflicted with a built-in tendency toward mounting underutilization of its technological and human resources, so that the gap between actual and potential production tends to get wider and wider. This manifests itself as growing unused productive capacity (what economists call "capacity overhang"), unemployment and wasteful production. As this problem grew in severity and profitable industrial investment opportunities withered, investment-seeking capital moved toward financial means of generating "profits." The scare quotes indicate that what this process of financialization produces is phantom, spurious "wealth," which must eventually dissipate in popped bubbles, recession or depression and the liquidation of real wealth as the widget-producing economy disintegrates in escalating unemployment and widespread business failures.

A brief review cannot do justice to this very helpful and insightful book. I have come across no better analysis of what will probably turn out to be the most severe crisis to beset modern capitalism, bar none, including the Great Depression.
19 von 19 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Cogent and timely analysis 15. März 2009
Von Malvin - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
"The Great Financial Crisis" by John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff offers one of the most cogent and timely analyses of the current economic meltdown available in print. Composed of a series of articles first published in Monthly Review magazine between May 2006 and December 2008, with additional material including a Preface, Introduction and References, the authors amply demonstrate the usefullness of the Marxist tradition in explaining the root causes of this latest crisis of capitalism. Importantly, the authors rescue economics from the bondage of abstraction and science by showing us that power and politics define the dynamics of the capitalist system, making the crucial point that it is the working class who both supplies the source of wealth and bears the greatest burden in times of economic distress.

Drawing heavily on the groundbreaking work of Paul Sweezy and Harry Magdoff, the authors contend that stagnation (slow growth and high unemployment) is the normal state of affairs in mature economies where monopoly capital has come to control the means of production. High levels of profitability has the effect of diminishing the purchasing power of the working class, leading to decreased investment in real productive ventures and increased financial speculation. At some point, finance is almost completely decoupled from the real economy and becomes a driving force on its own, leading to ever increasing indebtedness, inequality and systemic instability.

Foster and Magdoff convincingly demonstrate the prescience of Sweezy and Magdoff's work, which was written in the 1960's, arguing that today we are witnessing the unfolding of precisely the kind of crisis that had been predicted. We also come to understand how the government's response thus far has remained insufficient to the task inasmuch as policy decisions are made by key decision makers such as Ben Bernanke, who remains wedded to neoliberal orthodoxy. In that light, the administration's attempts to bailout the private sector with public money can be seen as a twisted yet peculiarly logical response by the powerful to fix a broken system that nonetheless heaps further insult upon an overexploited working class. Through their thoughful writing and analysis, Foster and Magdoff help us recognize the real problem as one of financial insolvency wrought by a system that serves only to satiate the wealthy, and implores the rest of us to demand a more sustainable and just system of economics that privilges people before profits.

I highly recommend this outstanding book to everyone.
33 von 36 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen saved me money; might save us. 9. März 2009
Von G. Meyerson - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
THE GREAT FINANCIAL CRISIS is a very important book. But before I get into detail, I should say that the lead essay on the emerging housing bubble--written in early 2006--convinced me, in conjunction with the MR team's analysis of the coemerging eco/energy crisis, that the future for capitalism was not bright and so I took a chunk (spring of 2007) of retirement money and paid off my house --against the advice of financial advisors and in-laws, etc, who claimed that my interest rate on the money invested would continue to exceed my mortgage rate so that it was foolish to pay off the house merely to feel more secure. Well: the money that went to pay off our house would have lost over half of its value. Booya to the financial advisors and well meaning relatives! John Bellamy Foster saved me over 25 grand and gave me some security: were I to lose my job, at least they couldn't take the house!

Okay: the best way to understand this book is to contrast it with a book like Dean Baker's recent PLUNDER AND BLUNDER. Baker's is a very useful book on the stock market and housing bubbles, but despite a host of superficial similarities between the two books, they really offer rival causal analyses of the crisis.

For Magdoff and Foster, financialization, with its attendant speculation, bubbles, and debt driven consumption, is a necessary consequence of intrinsic stagnationist tendencies in the capitalist economy. These tendencies themselves emerge from the contradictions of capitalism. There is on the one hand the contradiction between capital and labor, with the structural domination of capital over labor giving rise to growing EXTREME inequality and thus the effective demand problem that arises when the workers don't have the funds to buy back more than a small share of what they produce, and capitalists are faced with diminishing profit expectations on new investment. One way to overcome this problem under capitalism is debt driven consumption, which encourages the formation of bubbles. Thus, in the era of late neoliberal capitalism, itself responding to the contradictions and stagnationist tendencies in u.s. capitalism's golden age, workers who owned houses with inflating prices could finance consumption with their appreciating equity--until the bubble burst.

On the other hand, there is of course the contradiction between capitals at all levels that lead to profitability crises of various sorts that in turn render speculation and financialization both attractive and necessary, even if both not only fail to solve but eventually intensify the contradictions of capitalism to which they were a response. Foster and Magdoff are very good on how our debt driven consumption works up to a point to "grow the economy," but past that point, begins to backfire, turning the economy toward stagnation once again.

In contrast, Baker's book is about how we can avoid bubbles in the future by getting back to precisely that golden age of productive capitalism that presumably did not need bubbles to "work for America." Both books critique the growing inequality under capitalism but Foster and Magdoff see it as a contradiction-laden solution to profitability crises whereas Baker sees it as the one off result of bad policy by neoliberal elites and hopes that the aforementioned contradiction free productive capitalism can transcend for good the boom and the bubble.

It should also be noted that Baker never questions the growth imperative under capitalism whereas such questioning has been central to Foster and Magdoff's work.

So read Foster and Magdoff. It's too late to save you money but it might help save our future.
15 von 16 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen If you want to understand the crisis so as to change the conditions... 22. Januar 2009
Von R. Jamil Jonna - Veröffentlicht auf
The ideologues of modern economics--from Paul Krugman to Gary Becker and BusinessWeek to The Economist--have displayed utter impotence in the face of the Great Financial Crisis. Pierre Bourdieu said that the system of belief or justifications of modern economics, commonly understood as `neoliberalism,' "which dresses up simply conservative thought in the guise of pure reason, has to be fought, with reasons, arguments, refutations, demonstrations; and this implies scientific work." (see Acts of Resistance: Against the Tyranny of the Market) In The Great Financial Crisis, Foster and Magdoff take up this challenge with great success: for those interested in moving beyond the perpetual media chatter over the proximate causes of the crisis--from bad apples to bad regulation--this is a stimulating, and essential, read.

Many of the chapters were originally published in Monthly Review (, dating back to May 2006, which means that it is possible to see how initial predictions accurately and penetratingly anticipated real world events. One of the reasons, as Foster and Magdoff note in the Preface, is that this work is built on the "shoulders of giants," some of whom are beginnig to make regular appearances in the mainstream media: Marx, Schumpeter, Keynes, Minsky, Galbraith. And, most importantly, Paul Baran, Paul Sweezy and Harry Magdoff, whose pioneering works (especially Monopoly Capital: An Essay on the American Economic and Social Order) laid the groundwork for the current analysis. Magdoff and Sweezy lived through the Great Depression--as they say, "economic stagnation in its most agonizing and pervasive form, including its far-reaching ramifications in every aspect of social life, was an overwhelming personal experience." (see Stagnation and the Financial Explosion) And it is the reality of economic stagnation which lies at the root of the analysis in The Great Financial Crisis.

Essentially, the authors argue that normal tendency of advanced capitalist economies is toward economic stagnation: slack investment, slow growth and high unemployment. Their understanding of the dynamics of stagnation is rooted in the historical development the U.S. economy itself, stretching back to the 1930s. Consequently, readers are treated to both an historical and critical analysis, with careful documentation and explanation of each period of stability, growth, and crisis. What pulled the U.S. out of the Great Depression--New Deal Stimulus or War? What sustained growth after the end of World War II? Did U.S. capitalism enter a new stage with the growth of financial markets? What are the roots of the explosion of consumer debt? How are consumer debt and financialization related? These are just a few of the questions that are analyzed and clearly supported with straightforward government statistics.

This book may at first appear primarily concerned with economics and economic crisis. Yet one of its most important contributions is revealing economics as an inherently political process; and, most critically, making the case that taking control of this "political-economic" process is essential if there is to be lasting change. (On this last point see The Challenge and Burden of Historical Time: Socialism in the Twenty-First Century)
9 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen More Theory, Please 1. April 2009
Von not me - Veröffentlicht auf
"The Great Financial Crisis" is an uncannily powerful book. It draws in the reader by reproducing Monthly Review articles from 2006 to 2008 that foresaw and then chronicled the meltdown of the overleveraged U.S. financial system. The authors "got it right" and their broader neo-Marxist position is entitled to a serious public hearing.

Their core argument is that capitalist economies tend toward long-term stagnation characterized by unused capacity, low wages, and a dearth of investment opportunities. In the U.S., growth has been sustained since the 1980s only because profits were recycled into the financial sector, where they created asset bubbles and fueled household debt. This financial structure was fragile and could not be sustained indefinitely in the face of weakness in the underlying low-wage "real" economy.

While "The Great Financial Crisis" is superb economic journalism, its broader position is under-theorized and not carefully modelled, let alone tested. Too often references to old works by Paul Sweezy, Paul Baran and Harry Magdoff take the place of careful examination of the evidence. This isn't to say that the authors are wrong, but only that they have not clinched their case. They need to write a modern "Monopoly Capital."

No matter, "The Great Financial Crisis" is must reading.
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