In 2008, Britain experienced a financial crisis of epic proportions – unmatched since the great depression, it has been said – during which time high street banks were nationalised; approximately £850 billion was pumped into banks at the end of 2009; bank bailouts by January 2011 had added £1.5 trillion to Britain’s public debt; and all the time more money was demanded from the taxpayer for bonuses even when it became apparent that:
“While collecting salaries of between £500,000 and £10 million, leading City bankers actually destroyed £7 of social value for every pound in value they generate.”
Crises like this could be seen across Europe, America and in many other places around the world. This was a profoundly shocking wake up call for those who imagined that the economy and the way in which it operated, could last forever - that neoliberalism was an end of history.
So why would Richard Murphy have to write a book with the intention of laying into proponents of neoliberalism today? Hasn’t their house come crashing down? Precisely because this economic method is still very much a consensus in the economic world – from those for whom it is the worst system apart from all the others, to the deluded who will flog a dead horse come what may.
Murphy in his volume outlines the thinking behind this theory, noting that a wide shift has taken place where government is seen only as something that gets in the way of market progress – and that this shift has been picked up by governments themselves.
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