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200 × 120 mm
128 pages
01 Mar 2011

Business as Usual The Economic Crisis and the Failure of Capitalism Paul Mattick

The general consensus is that the world's economic difficulties can be traced to a crisis in the financial system. Initially brought on by the collapse of the subprime mortgage market in the USA, it spread through a financial landscape defined by high levels of debt and speculative risk. Some point to the dangers of collapse inherent in the modern financial system, while others blame long-term imbalances in the world economy between low-investment, high-consumption areas like the USA and rapidly developing regions such as China and South Asia.

In Business as Usual Paul Mattick explains the recession in jargon-free style, without shying away from serious analysis. He explores current events in relation to the development of the world economy since the Second World War and, more fundamentally, looks at the cycle of crisis and recovery that has characterized capitalism since the early nineteenth century. Mattick situates today’s crisis in the context of a capitalism ruled by a voracious quest for profit. He places the downturn within the context of business cycles and uses this explanation as a springboard for exploring the nature of our capitalist society, and its prospects for the future.

A clear and readable account of the successes and the inherent limits of government attempts to stabilize the economy, Mattick ultimately reveals how today’s downturn is not simply the effect of a financial crisis, but that it manifests a truth about the nature of the social and economic system in which we live.

‘Paul Mattick says the recession isn't just a financial crisis; it manifests a truth about the socioeconomic system in which we live.’ – Irish Times

‘We highly recommend it – it's a brilliantly comprehensive and yet miraculously short history and analysis of capitalist crisis . . . Mattick's book is an essential guide.’ – Socialist Standard

‘Mattick's book valuably locates the roots of the crisis in the nature of the capitalist system, providing a forceful counter-argument to those liberal-left commentators who have sought to blame the recent crisis on “greedy bankers”, “neoliberalism” or other manifestations of “excessive” capitalism, while arguing for a return to a regulated Keynesianism.’ – Radical Philosophy

‘Illustrated by the rich historical and empirical research provided, the powerful message of this suggestive, Marxist-informed critique is how present-day economics, combined with our preconceived notions of capital and governance, is an inadequate, failing perspective on the capitalist system.’ – Marx and Philosophy Review of Books

‘This lucid and thoughtful study is not just another important contribution to the rapidly expanding literature on the current economic crisis, though it is that as well. With historical depth and penetrating analysis, it seeks to reveal what is “wrong with the mainstream approach to understanding current economic affairs” . . . It provides a grimly realistic picture of what may lie ahead unless there is a radical transformation of the social order from production for profit to pursuit of human ends, based on “shared social decision-making outside the constraints of the business economy,” hence a major step towards true democracy.’ – Noam Chomsky

Business as Usual is a superb achievement. In this highly accessible book, Paul Mattick offers an outstanding theoretical and empirical account of the ongoing crisis, its devastating implications for the majority, and a brilliant indictment of the failures of mainstream economics at the levels of theory and policy guidance. It also shows how and why these dismal failures should no longer deter the search for transformative alternatives.’ – Alfredo Saad-Filho, SOAS, University of London

‘For anyone who is unsatisfied with the usual explanations of the current economic crisis - greed and fraud, deregulation, financialization, etc. – and is looking for a deeper explanation, this book is for you. Mattick demonstrates (without jargon and with great clarity) that the root causes of the current crisis lie in the fundamental nature and dynamics of capitalist economies, and places this crisis within the illuminating historical context of recurring capitalist crises since the early 19th century.’ – Fred Moseley, Professor of Economics, Mount Holyoke College

‘This is a fine book. It argues against the illusion that the current crisis is just a bonfire of contingent market forces, exposes economics as the dismal science that it is, and opposes the idea that capitalism is not some sort of economic mechanism that, if expertly regulated by those in the know, works well for the benefit of all. Mattick has to be congratulated not just for writing an immensely rich account of the current crisis but, also, for doing so with immense historical insight, theoretical cunning, and astute political judgement. ’ – Werner Bonefeld, University of York

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Paul Mattick is Professor of Philosophy at Adelphi University, New York. He is former editor of the International Journal of Political Economy, author of Art in its Time (2003), and co-author of Art Works: Money (2004).