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New Left Review 70, July-August 2011

Thomas Michl


Amid the torrent of books on the 2008 financial meltdown and the North Atlantic ‘great recession’, this important new contribution from Paris stands out as an analytical beacon. A vast amount has been written on the mechanisms that allowed a giant securitization bubble to blow up within the hypertrophied financial system. But Gérard Duménil and Dominique Lévy are always mindful of a point that Marx or Keynes would have insisted upon: systemic crises are generated by the internal contradictions of the capitalist economy itself. The Crisis of Neoliberalism combines a long-run comparative view of capitalism’s crises—the 1890s, 1929, the 1970s, 2008—and successive ‘exits from crisis’, with a detailed, data-rich anatomization of the developments of the past decade: the ‘new’ financial sector, growing global disequilibria, us housing bubble, the ‘seismic wave’ of the unfolding crisis and the rescue measures implemented by the us Treasury and Federal Reserve. [1] Gérard Duménil and Dominique Lévy, The Crisis of Neoliberalism, Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA 2011, $49.95, hardcover 391 pp, 978 0 674 04988 8 Duménil and Lévy conclude with a comparison of the aftermaths of 1929 and 2008, an assessment of the significance of the crisis for us hegemony and some sober prognoses on the social and economic order likely to emerge in its wake. The authors aspire to the kind of influence that Baran and Sweezy achieved with Monopoly Capital some forty years ago—and on this reading, they deserve it. Like Monopoly Capital, the analytical framework of Crisis of Neoliberalism uses some Marxian categories and language, but leavened with (often implicit) elements of Veblen, Chandler, Galbraith, Keynes and Polanyi. The result is a highly distinctive—and compellingly radical—approach, which demands serious attention.

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Thomas Michl, ‘Finance as a Class?’, NLR 70: £3

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