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Working Paper No. 592 | May 2010

The Global Financial Crisis and a New Capitalism?

The 2008 global financial crisis was the consequence of the process (1) of financialization, or the creation of massive fictitious financial wealth, that began in the 1980s,; and (2) the hegemony of a reactionary ideology—namely, neoliberalism—based on self-regulated and efficient markets. Although laissez-faire capitalism is intrinsically unstable, the lessons of  the 1929 stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression of the 1930s were transformed into theories and institutions or regulations that led to the “30 glorious years of capitalism” (1948–77) and that could have helped avoid a financial crisis as profound as the present one. But it did not, because a coalition of rentiers and “financists” achieved hegemony and, while deregulating the existing financial operations, refused to regulate the financial innovations that made these markets even  riskier. Neoclassical economics played the role of a meta-ideology as it legitimized, mathematically and “scientifically,” neoliberal ideology and deregulation. From this crisis a new democratic capitalist system will emerge, though its character is difficult to predict. It will not be financialized, but the glory years’ tendencies toward a global and knowledge-based capitalism in which professionals  have more say than rentier capitalists, as well as the tendency to improve democracy by making it more social and participative, will be resumed.
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Author(s):
Luiz Carlos Bresser-Pereira
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