The Enigma of Capital

The Enigma of Capital

And the Crises of Capitalism

Book - 2010
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"Since the moment the deeply unsettling financial disaster erupted in September 2008, a crisis of confidence has gripped the economic mind. Experts of all stripes, from Alan Greenspan on down, were at a loss to explain what had happened. David Harvey saw this moment coming. A legendary scholar and critic of capitalism, he has been warning of problems for decades. Now, in The Enigma of Capital, Harvey provides a sweeping and brilliantly clear explanation of how the disaster happened, and how we can avoid another like it. Unlike other commentators, Harvey does not focus on subprime loans or mortgage securitization as the root cause of the calamity. Instead, he looks at something that reaches far deeper into the heart of capitalism--the flow of money through society. He shows how falling profit margins in the 1970s generated a deep transformation. With government assistance, capital was freed to flow across borders, and production moved to cheaper labor markets, depressing workers' incomes in the West. But as more and more money moved out of the laboring classes and into the pockets of the wealthy, a problem arose--how could the workers afford to buy the products which fueled the now-global economy? To solve this problem, a new kind of finance capitalism arose, pouring rivers of credit to increasingly strapped consumers. Moreover, these financial institutions loaned money to both real-estate developers as well as home buyers--in effect, controlling both the supply and demand for housing. But when the real-estate market collapsed, so did this financial edifice, an edifice that dominated our economy. We cannot afford to simply shore up this financial system, Harvey writes; we need to undertake a radical overhaul. With this landmark account, he offers a richly informed discussion of how we can turn our economy in a new direction--fairer, healthier, more just, and truly sustainable"--Publisher's description.
Publisher: New York : Oxford University Press, 2010
ISBN: 9780199758715
Characteristics: viii, 296 p. : ill. ; 23 cm


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Feb 10, 2016

I had trouble getting through the first paragraph. According to the author the financial crisis wasn't noticed because the holders of subprime mortgages were black instead of white. No evidence is given for this assertion. (I think the banks were more concerned with green than black or white.) i skimmed the next chapter and realized his thinking is just a network of similar unexamined assertions. (Reminds me of reading Naomi Klein but at least she has more charm.)

Mar 29, 2012

this bk merits a careful read.

reviews on this site, suggesting it's marxist prattle are idiotic.

harvey candidly explains where marx was onto something and where he misfired.

Marx at 193 hit the bullseye and missed badly.

It's worth thinking about

roadshowrigoletto Jan 21, 2012

World history has shown that capitalism is vastly better than the alternatives? I guess that depends on who you ask and whether they survived to answer the question. Also which 'capitalism' where and when? More later. I just can't let somethings stand alone and unchallenged.

Sep 27, 2011

I should have listened to the first comment. While written with style and depth, I could not escape the left-leaning, even Communist ideology found to be at the heart of this book's message. Yes, Capitalism has flaws, especially when it comes to concentrated finance, but world history has shown that it is vastly better than the alternatives.

Dec 13, 2010

This is a good interesting read. The author carefully examines the strengths capitalism offers as well as sneering attacks on the effects of wall street on the general populace as a whole. One chapter was quite enlightening on the effects geography has in regards to capitalism. He examines the underlining issues from multiple stances such as race, labor, student movements, intellectuals, and class. However, in the end he encourages a union between various anti-capitalists and sees violence as probably the only outcome for initiating change. Which I felt was a bit of a disappointing conclusion to an otherwise strong book.

Nov 20, 2010

some marxists never give up, so if you want an alternative view to the outlook for the post 2008 crash...


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