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The Age of Finance Capital—and the Irrelevance of Mainstream Economics

The Age of Finance Capital—and the Irrelevance of Mainstream Economics

Despite the fact that the manufacturers of ideas have elevated economics to the (contradictory) levels of both a science and a religion, a market theodicy, mainstream economics does not explain much when it comes to an understanding of real world developments. Indeed, as a neatly stylized discipline, economics has evolved into a corrupt, obfuscating and useless—nay, harmful—field of study. Harmful, because instead of explaining and clarifying it tends to mystify and justify.

One of the many flaws of the discipline is its static or ahistorical character, that is, a grave absence of a historical perspective. Despite significant changes over time in the market structure, the discipline continues to cling to the abstract, idealized model of competitive industrial capitalism of times long past.

Not surprisingly, much of the current economic literature and most economic “experts” still try to explain the recent cycles of financial bubbles and bursts by the outdated traditional theories of economic/business cycles. Accordingly, policy makers at the head of central banks and treasury departments continue to issue monetary prescriptions that, instead of mitigating the frequency and severity of the cycles, tend to make them even more frequent and more gyrating.

This crucially important void of a dynamic, long-term or historic perspective explains why, for example, most mainstream economists fail to see that the financial meltdown of 2008 in the United States, its spread to many other countries around the world, and the consequent global economic stagnation represent more than just another recessionary cycle. More importantly, they represent a structural change, a new phase in the development of capitalism, the age of finance capital.

A number of salient features distinguish the age of finance capital from earlier stages of capitalism, that is, stages when finance capital grew and/or circulated in tandem with industrial capital.

 

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