John Bellamy Foster: The great financial crisis: causes and consequences

A November 3, 2008, public lecture by John Bellamy Foster, editor of Monthly Review and co-author (with Fred Magdoff) of The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences, which will published by Monthly Review Press in January 2009. See also ``Financial implosion and stagnation: Back to the real economy'' , by John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff.

What people say about The Great Financial Crisis

"Everyone at last knows we are in a great financial crisis. Foster and Magdoff have seen it coming for some time now. If you want a clear and cogent explanation of the reality of our debt crisis and what might be done about it, this is your book." -- Immanuel Wallerstein, Yale University

"The Great Financial Crisis will be extremely useful for all who are trying to sort out the meaning of the most serious crisis US and global capitalism has faced in eighty years. Few today are able both to make sense of the details of the modern ``financial architecture'' that turned a predictable burst in the US housing bubble into a full scale financial meltdown, and also to bring an historical perspective stemming from the work of Keynes, Hansen, Steindl, Kalecki, Minsky, Galbraith, and of course Marx, Paul Sweezy and Harry Magdoff. Because the authors could draw on their own excellent coverage of the lead up to the crisis in the pages of Monthly Review magazine, we have an invaluable book available to us much sooner than would otherwise be possible." -- Robin Hahnel, professor of economics, American University

"Those of us who are dissatisfied with the analyses of the financial-economic meltdown of 2008 that attribute it to easily remediable ``mistakes'' on the part of financial institutions, regulators, or policy makers can learn a lot from John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff 's The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences. ``Foster and Magdoff follow up the theses of Paul Sweezy, Paul Baran and Harry Magdoff that diagnose the structural problems of US capitalism in its chronic tendency toward stagnation rooted in inadequate business investment and leading to slow growth, unemployment of labour, and low utilisation of capital. This book makes the case that the excesses of financialisation and the widening inequality of income distribution are themselves indirect effects of stagnation in the real economy, and explains with sobering clarity why the roots of this crisis may turn out to be deep and difficult to address with conventional policy measures." -- Duncan Foley, Leo Model Professor of Economics, New School for Social Research

"Much of the analysis of the latest economic meltdown has been confined to explanations about the housing bubble and bust. In The Great Financial Crisis, Foster and Magdoff take a broader approach, presenting a rigorous and sorely needed historical and forward-looking perspective of the capitalist system out of control. With intricate detail, Foster and Magdoff contextualise the housing debt and speculative bubble within its rightful place at the core of an accelerated period of the financialisation of capital, eloquently arguing why a people-first, or socialistic, approach to this crisis is the most logical way to stabilize the general economy." -- Nomi Prins, author of Other People's Money and Jacked

"Harry Magdoff and Paul Sweezy, to whom this book is dedicated, analyzed financialisation as inseparable from the tendency to stagnation of monopoly capital. The present book is written in the same spirit and brings their approach fully up to date under the circumstances of ``monopoly-finance capital''. It underlines that, whatever might be attempted today, the necessarily recurring crisis is bound to get worse without remedying the causes of stagnation. Thus Foster and Fred Magdoff rightly stress that ``the answer lies in a truly revolutionary reconstruction of the entire society''. Their book is a worthy memorial to Harry Magdoff and Paul Sweezy." -- István Mészáros, author of The Challenge and Burden of Historical Time and Beyond Capital

"Foster and Magdoff's very readable account of the crisis merits close and wide attention. Their analysis of consumer debt burdens is the perfect antidote for everyone who is tired of hearing how ``we'' went on a consumption binge, and their historically sensitive discussions of the roots of the crisis are fresh and provocative." -- Thomas Ferguson, University of Massachusetts, Boston, author of The Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems

"John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff 's book on The Great Financial Crisis is an excellent example of the usefulness of studying Marx's works and that of other Marxist political economists, e.g. the writings of Paul M. Sweezy and Harry Magdoff, in order to better grasp the dynamics and contradictions of the financial turmoil and its implications for social conflict. The disastrous contemporary financial crisis cannot be understood as the consequence of a ``wrong regulation'' of the world of finance. It is an emanation of the ``real'' accumulation process of financialised monopoly capital." -- Elmar Altvater, Otto-Suhr-Institute of the Free University of Berlin

"Foster and Magdoff's new book presents a sharp and stimulating analysis of the historical origins and structural roots of the current financial crisis. The authors argue that the implosion is a logical consequence of the contradictions of monopoly finance capital -- contradictions that are reflected in the twin processes of financialisation and stagnation that have dominated the development of the US economy in the recent decades. It is an essential read if the mea culpas and post mortems of ``the experts'' faced suddenly with ``a fundamental flaw'' in the logic of unregulated markets have left you demanding a more penetrating account of this crisis." -- Ramaa Vasudevan, assistant professor of economics, Colorado State University

"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, professor of economics, California State University at Chico and author of Railroading Economics, The Invention of Capitalism and The Confiscation of American Prosperity

"The financial crisis of 2007-08, and with more certainly in store for 2009 and beyond, is one of the great calamities of modern neoliberal capitalism. But it should come as no surprise for regular readers of John Foster and Fred Magdoff 's writings over the past few years in Monthly Review. In a series of highly accessible and cogent articles, they have consistently explained both the build up to the crisis and its consequences. The Great Financial Crisis brings their ideas together in one place. It is compelling reading for anyone seeking to both understand and change the world we live in today." -- Robert Pollin, professor of economics and co-director, Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), University of Massachusetts-Amherst

[John Bellamy Foster is editor of Monthly Review, and professor of sociology at the University of Oregon, and author of Critique of Intelligent Design (with Brett Clark and Richard York), Naked Imperialism, Ecology Against Capitalism, Marx’s Ecology, The Vulnerable Planet and The Theory of Monopoly Capitalism. This lecture, organised by Black Sun Books and International Socialist Organisation-Eugene, was delivered on November 3, 2008. See also, John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff, "Financial Implosion and Stagnation," Monthly Review, December 2008. This video was first posted at MRZine, and is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.]

Submitted by Dave Patterson (not verified) on Thu, 12/18/2008 - 04:03


Disappointed that the esteemed Mr Foster does not seem to recognize the central role of money creation in the current crisis, and every crisis and other major financial event (booms, busts, bubbles, recessions, etc) for the last couple of hundred years - this seems to be endemic amongst 'progressives' for some reason. Marx was good, but not god - he too skipped over the role of money creation in his analysis, which flawed it considerably. You can get a start on catching up here - Banketeering .