The 2007–08 credit crisis and the long recession that followed brutally exposed the economic and social costs of financialization. Understanding what lay behind these events, the rise of “fictitious capital” and its opaque logic, is crucial to grasping the social and political conditions under which we live. Yet, for most people, the operations of the financial system remain shrouded in mystery.
In this lucid and compelling book, economist Cédric Durand offers a concise and critical introduction to the world of finance, unveiling the truth behind the credit crunch. Fictitious Capital moves beyond moralizing tales about greedy bankers, short-sighted experts and compromised regulators to look at the big picture. Using comparative data covering the last four decades, Durand examines the relationship between trends such as the rise in private and public debt and the proliferation of financial products; norms such as our habitual assumptions about the production of value and financial stability; and the relationship of all this to political power.
Fictitious Capital offers a stark warning about the direction that the international economy is taking. Durand argues that the accelerated expansion of financial operations is a sign of the declining power of the economies of the Global North. The City, Wall Street and other centres of the power of money, he suggests, may already be caked with the frosts of winter.
Economist Cedric Durand describes the rise of global financial markets during the past decades and explores the nature of the economic system that is emerging from it. Durand builds his discussion on the forgotten Marxist concept of "fictitious capital", that is, capital freed from the constraints of material production, as a claim on future production, and its ambivalent nature: being both the source of the expansion of production and profits but also carrying the risk of a financial crisis, the disconnection between its growth and the actual potential of the economy. From this basis, Durand reflects on the socio-economic implications of financialization and financial crises, the role of institutions, norms and the state in ensuring financial stability and perpetuating this fiction, as well as the future trends of finance-dominated capitalism.
Comment from our editors:
Cedric Durand is one of the leading economists of the new heterodox generation in France. His works are greatly influenced by Marxist analysis and range from the economics of financialization to discussing the role of intellectual property rights in global value chains. In this quite short book, first published in French and then translated into English, he offers an innovative discussion of the past, present, and future of finance-dominated capitalism.