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Is Capitalism Ending? An Institutional-Evolutionary View

Naoise McDonagh

Journal of Economic Issues, 2020, vol. 54, issue 3, 667-691

Abstract: Critical political economists on the Left regard the 2008 Global Financial Crisis as a symptom of long-term structural issues threatening global capitalist reproduction. Building on that view, a number of studies have argued that global capitalism will collapse in the coming decades. The three key structural issues they identify are: (1) mass technological unemployment of middle-class workers, (2) low growth and economic stagnation in advanced economies leading to global economic breakdown, and (3) declining Western growth and consumption cannot be offset by growth in China and Asia more broadly, thus leading to a breakdown of the global system. This article challenges each of these arguments on the grounds that they are theoretically flawed and empirically ungrounded. Key issues include a failure to adequately account for the role of global capitalist variation in driving growth and innovation, and an invalid representative model of global economic evolution based on trends in the United States, Europe, and Japan. Based on theoretical considerations concerning the state’s role in generating institutional diversity, and in light of identified empirical trends concerning global growth and employment, I argue that the global political economy is in more robust condition than critics suggest.

Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1080/00213624.2020.1778972

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