Books, Economy

One World, Ready or Not

This is an excerpt from a book I’m not reading, called “One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism” by William Greider. I opened it to a random page and came upon Chapter Eleven, titled “The Alchemists”. Wanted to share.

In the history of capitalism’s long expansionary cycles, it is finance capital that usually rules in the final stage, displacing the inventors and industrialists who launched the era, eclipsing the power of governments to manage the course of economic events. As capital owners and financial markets accumulate greater girth and a dominating influence, their search for higher returns becomes increasingly purified in purpose – detached from social concerns and abstracted from the practical realities of commerce. In this atmosphere, investors develop rising expectations of what their invested savings ought to earn and the rising prices in financial makrets gradually diverge from the underlying economic reality. Since returns on capital are rising faster than the productive output that must pay them, the process imposses greater and greater burdens on commerce and societies – debt obligations that cannot possibly be fulfilled by the future, and sooner or later, must be liquidated, written off or forgiven.

Amid the glow of personal accumulation, this divergence is difficult for individual investors to see. Instead, they plunge forward optimisitcially, embracing new and more speculative opportunities despite occasional evidence that something may be awry. A period of manic investing typically unfolds at this point, as masses of investors, large and small, rush this way and that in their search. Their enthusiasm is interrupted now and then by sudden disappointments that set off panics and collapsing financial prices, but the sheer energy of amassed wealth pushes forward, nonetheless. And finance becomes further inhunged from reality.