Rough Theory

Theory In The Rough

Crisis Archive

Apologies again for the lack of posting recently – I’ll try to join the fray again very soon, and am particularly keen to pick up on elements of the discussion currently unfolding in relation to my last post: soon.

In the meantime, I just wanted to archive a few introductory reference links on the crisis. First, if folks haven’t noticed it, there is a useful collection of orientational links on the crisis being collected at a new blog titled The Money Meltdown, which is geared to non-specialist readers trying to make sense of the crisis. Lumpenprof has recently raised the question of how to discuss elements of the crisis with undergraduate students – I had suggested the Giant Pool of Money episode from This American Life was an accessible and interesting way “in” to the crisis for undergraduates – I haven’t had a chance to look at the transcript to the more recent follow-up episode, but would guess that wouldn’t be a bad bet either. Some useful historical notes on the crisis can be found in this piece by R.D. Congleton.

I’ll do something less… referential very soon. Unfortunately, since I can’t really pull myself out of thesis space right now, my comments will most likely be more abstract and non-specific to this particular situation than I would like to make them. If others have links they’d like to recommend on the crisis, please feel free to post them here – with a quick indication, if you could, of what the linked material discusses and why you would recommend it.

Many thanks…

6 responses to “Crisis Archive

  1. Dan Hirschman October 13, 2008 at 8:14 am

    My brief annotated financial crisis bibliography is here. I particularly recommend the NPR Planet Money blog/podcast – they are the people who did the two excellent This American Life episodes, and now they are updating quite frequently.

  2. N Pepperell October 19, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Dan – Thank you for this.

    A couple of other links, just to archive in one spot – both to sites attempting to collate resources from Marxist analyses:

    Marx and the Financial Crisis of 2008 – from its introductory post:

    This blog aims to collect materials (especially online materials) on the contribution Marxian theory can make to understanding the causes of the financial crisis of 2008.

    It is common ground that the immediate cause of the crisis is a vast bubble of increasingly risky lending that has blown up especially in the US in the last 10-15 years, and has now gone into a savage reverse triggered by the collapse in house prices and rising level of mortgage defaults. But the more fundamental questions are: What is it about the modern US economy that has given rise to this credit bubble? Are bubbles like this intrinsic to a capitalist economy as such or only to the ‘deregulated’ version of it in the US since the 1970s? Or does the development of capitalism drive in the direction of forms of it that are increasingly susceptible to such credit bubbles?

    There are a plenty of left-wing websites that talk in generic terms about the ‘anarchic nature of capitalism’, the ‘growth of financial parasitism’, or the ‘decay of American capitalism’, but these phrases by themselves do not explain anything. Nor does referring to the ‘tendency of the rate of profit to fall’ unless it can be shown how this tendency gives rise to credit bubbles. Here we aim to collect material that tries seriously to link an explanation of the present credit bubble and its implosion to Marx’s basic account of the capitalist economy.

    Radical Perspectives on the Crisis:

    The world is falling apart and we want to know why and what to do about it. Some of us have been studying some of this stuff for a while and others are trying to brush up quick.

    On this site we will post all the useful information we can find on understanding and grappling with the shit that capitalism will throw at us over the next months, as well as seeking exit strategies in the struggles which develop.

  3. rob July 7, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    Hi NP

    Didn’t know where to leave this comment, but this seemed as good a place as any.

    I came across an interesting, Marxist analysis of the GFC published in CTHEORY a few weeks ago:

    Being something short of an expert political economist, I have to admit to not quite understanding all of it, but a few bits stuck out, and the piece as a whole reminded me of something I thought I read around these parts (but can not seem to find): that the GFC provided a chance to return to Marx, that the crisis legitimated critical reflection on capitalism and exploration of alternatives.

    Hope all is well.


  4. N Pepperell July 9, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Hey rob – thanks for this. At some point, I should write a bit more on the discussion of “immaterial” labour and the attempt to grasp recent transformations in capitalist production by means of the category of “financialisation” – my impulse is that some analyses that use these terms are focussing very partially on specific areas of the developed world – effectively reducing capitalism to the forms of production and consumption characteristic of one part of the world, and losing sight of how it operates as a global system, where many of the trends that are so prominent in some parts of the world are contradicted by other trends more prominent in other parts of the world.

    This doesn’t make the trends in, say, developed countries any less “real” than trends in other places – capitalism generates genuinely contradictory practical results – but it does mean that analyses that focus exclusively on trends in one region or type of country tend to miss important aspects of how the system as a whole articulates, so that capitalism is understood as though it is developing in some more linear direction than I think can often be defended.

    This means both that some authors miss how contemporary dynamics are not as new as they are sometimes taken to be – often we’ve seen similar dynamics in earlier periods – and that some authors overstate the potency and significance of the trend they may be otherwise correctly identifying – basically overextrapolating and hypostatising from a partial understanding of capitalist history, and not fully capturing the counter-tendencies that are also characteristic of the overarching system as a whole.

    I should emphasise that I’m more free-associating, than commenting on the specific article to which you’ve linked – more responding to the more general discursive space within which some of the vocabulary from the piece sits, than responding to that piece individually. But I really need to find time to start working systematically through these various attempts to articulate the crisis and understand it theoretically (and practically…).

    On other fronts: I’m doing well after a long, irritating bout of whooping cough. It’s been about eight weeks, and I think I’m finally past the symptoms, but juggling it around standard end-of-term work schedules was draining…

  5. rob July 9, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Sorry to hear you’ve been unwell, NP β€” and with whooping cough too!

    I thought you usually don’t get sick until after you’re finished with the end-of-term stuff…

  6. N Pepperell July 9, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Yeah – no – it caught me early this term πŸ™‚ My son’s vaccination at least kept him free of it… And I’m free of my normal end-of-term ailment, it having been crowded out, I suppose… πŸ˜‰

    I had made the unfortunate decision to design the final assessment for a large undergraduate course to be all-day conferences for all the tutorials – all of which I was meant personally to attend. I managed it, sitting in a corner and trying not to cough on anyone… Hopefully I won’t come back at the beginning of this term to learn I infected all my students… (I didn’t actually realise when the conferences were going on that I was going to be properly sick – I thought I had a bad cold, and we were booked into a freezing cold room, so I took the severity of the symptoms to be a product of that for some time…)

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