The Real World Economics Review has just released Crash: Why It Happened and What to Do About It, an ebook of articles previously published in RWER. The collection endeavors to diagnose the current crisis and prescribe future policies. From editor Edward Fullbrooke’s introduction:
Today in many countries, especially the US and UK, the neoclassical-neoliberal mainstream is so institutionally entrenched that there exists the danger that its faithful, instead of working to disabuse themselves of the illusions that facilitated the global disaster, will put their efforts to shielding themselves from the guilt and shame that rightly they should bear. With few exceptions, several of whom are contributors to this book, economists, no less than men-in-the-street, remained silently oblivious to the approaching financial collapse and the human loss that follows. Even now the profession’s upper orders exhibit no inclination to subject the antecedents of the recent events to a rigorous and, most important, irreverent analysis. But only if we, like the Chinese, can find the intellectual courage to forgo the beatitudes of Economics 101, can we hope to approach the truth of why it happened and how it can be prevented from happening again.
Definitely on target, I think. Looking through the contents and browsing the articles, I am seeing some familiar names: Dean Baker, Jamie Galbraith, even George Soros.
Nevertheless, something is a bit unsettling about this ebook, which of course I haven’t had time to read thoroughly. It seems that most of the contributors are still addressing this crisis as a financial one, not an economic one. It is an important distinction. The financial crisis arguments focus on lack of regulation, housing bubbles, and so on and so forth. Nowhere in this collection of arguments do we find the Wolff argument, which calls this an economic crisis rooted in the basic capitalist structure of the economy.
It would be unsurprising to see a mainstream/neo-classical approach to the crisis unfold on the financial terms, as outlined in this book, but I expected RWER to be more open to the Marxian and radical political economy points of view. Color me somewhat disappointed. At the same time, there are some pretty good approaches to the enabling financial aspects of the crisis, which I will certainly spend more time reading, so don’t think I’m dismissing this collection.