Neoliberalism’s survival and the crisis of imagination

My post for SPERI’s The Coming Crisis series.

The last crisis was one of growth.  The next crisis may be coming, but the growth crisis goes on.  Yet capitalism, which cannot countenance stagnation, has survived.  How?  This relates, among other things, to how a given distribution of wealth is institutionalised.  Political-economic regimes will only fundamentally falter once those at the top of the wealth distribution have exhausted the resources available to them to maintain the established order.

These resources are not purely material. They will include the ideas that proffer legitimacy upon accumulative and distributive processes – indeed the strength of such ideas may effectively obscure practices within the economy that materially favour certain groups.

This brings me to neoliberalism, and the possibility of a genuinely post-neoliberal economic order in the advanced capitalist economies. Neoliberal statecraft is now characterised by the large-scale manipulation of money and credit by non-market authorities (for instance, the role of quantitative easing in boosting asset prices), but such initiatives remain obscured and, perversely, legitimised by the market metaphor.

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Image: IMF