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The Age of Monopoly-Finance Capital

Monday, February 1, 2010

In the latest issue of the Monthly Review John Bellamy Foster writes:

The question I raised at the beginning of this article is: Has capitalism entered a new stage? In the 2006 article on “Monopoly-Finance Capital” I referred to monopoly-finance capital as a new phase of the monopoly stage of capitalism. If we see the stages of capitalism—say, nineteenth-century competitive capitalism and the twentieth-century monopoly capitalism—as dynamic periods in which economic transformation creates the basis of a whole new means of advance in accumulation, then the period of monopoly-finance capital does not seem to merit such a designation. Rather, the accumulation of capital has remained stagnant in the center of the system, while it has become increasingly dependent on speculative finance to maintain what little growth there is. What we may be witnessing in the present phase is the weakening of capitalist production at the advanced capitalist core as a result of a process of maturation of the accumulation process in these societies: hence, the stagnation-financialization trap. Financialization, however, has, paradoxically, helped to promote wealth and power in this context, creating a complex, contradictory reality in the age of monopoly-finance capital. There can be little doubt that this is an unstable situation, and that capital accumulation at the core of the system is, in many ways, running up against its historic limits.

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