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New Left Review I/178, November-December 1989


Alain Lipietz

The Debt Problem, European Integration and the New Phase of World Crisis

The market crash of October 1987 and the tremor of 1989 both prompted speculation that some replay of the 1929 crisis was in prospect. When the markets recovered, a cry of relief went up: ‘The Crisis Is Over’. But in reality the crisis has persisted now for more than fifteen years. The us election year just postponed the problems, and we are currently entering a new phase, with many difficulties. According to a well-known Gramscian dictum, a crisis means that the old is dying but the new is unable to be born. ‘The Old’ is the economic order which, since the Korean War and under the aegis of the Pax Americana, allowed the developed capitalist countries twenty years of unprecedented growth. This order has now broken down and the search for a new model of growth, for a new international order, has been proceeding by a process of trial and error. The financial crash of 1987 merely revealed the obstacles which made illusory the previously attempted solutions. In other words, it signalled the beginning of a fourth phase of the crisis, one whose contours are as yet uncertain.

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