From Financial Crisis to World-Slump: Accumulation, Financialisation, and the Global Slowdown

In: Historical Materialism
David McNally York University, Toronto

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This paper assesses the current world economic crisis in terms of crucial transformations in global capitalism throughout the neoliberal period. It argues that intense social and spatial restructuring after the crises of 1973–82 produced a new wave of capitalist expansion (centred on East Asia) that began to exhaust itself in the late-1990s. Since that time, new problems of overaccumulation and declining profitability have plagued global capitalism. Interconnected with these problems are contradictions related to a mutation in the form of world-money, as a result of its complete de-linking from gold after 1971, which stimulated a fantastic growth in financial instruments and transactions, and generated a proliferation of esoteric 'fictitious capitals' whose collapse is wreaking havoc across world financial markets. The intersection between general conditions of overaccumulation and a crisis in financial structures specific to neoliberalism has now produced a deep world-slump. Inherent in this crisis is a breakdown in forms of value-measurement that is throwing up intense struggles between the capitalist value-form and popular life-values, the latter of which comprise the grounds for any real renewal of the socialist Left.

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