The Long Depression

The Long Depression

4.18 (82 ratings by Goodreads)
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4.18 (82 ratings by Goodreads)

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The Long Depression looks at the current global economy from a Marxist perspective. London-based economist Michael Roberts argues that the global economy is in a depression, in which the profitability of capital is too low and debt built up before the Great Recession is too high. Roberts concludes that this depression will only end when the profitability of capital is restored - which Roberts argues will require yet another slump.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 380 pages
  • 141 x 216 x 27.94mm | 476.27g
  • Chicago, United States
  • English
  • 1608464687
  • 9781608464685
  • 350,100

Table of contents

The long depression of the early 21st century -
how it happened, why it happened and what happens next

Introduction: Getting depressed

Chapter 1: The Long Depression of the late 19th century

Chapter 2: The Great Depression of the mid-20th century

Chapter 3: The Great Recession of the 21st century

Chapter 4: The cycle of profit

Chapter 5: Debt matters

Chapter 6: From slump to depression

Chapter 7: America crawls

Chapter 8: Europe deflates

Chapter 9: Japan stagnates

Chapter 11: The rest cannot escape

Chapter 11: Cycles within cycles

Chapter 12: Past its use-by date?

Appendix 1: How to measure the rate of profit

Appendix 2: The failure of Keynesianism

Sources and methodology for the figures


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Review quote

"This book is a tour de force analysis of the current global economic crisis and the preconditions and prospects for recovery in the years ahead. Based largely on empirical data and Marx's theory of the falling rate of profit, Roberts argues that the world economy is in a long depression due to a falling rate of profit and a massive increase of debt. He argues further that a full recovery and a return to more prosperous conditions requires a prior even more severe depression, characterized by widespread bankruptcies, which would devalue capital and restore the rate of profit and would also wipe out much of the debt. He argues that a much better alternative would be to wipe out capitalism and construct a more democratic and egalitarian economy that is not vulnerable to recurring depressions."
Fred Moseley, professor of economics, Mount Holyoke College

"With great clarity, Michael Roberts explains capitalism's necessary proneness to profound economic crises and surveys the course of the current and previous depressions. Extensive use of empirical evidence, very accessibly presented, make his own main, Marxist argument and refutations of rival explanations persuasive. This book is at once an engaging read and a powerful political weapon."
Rick Kuhn, honorary associate professor at the Australian National University and winner of the 2007 Isaac Deutscher Memorial Prize

"Since the global economic crisis, Michael Roberts's blog has become the indispensable source for those on the left seeking to understand and challenge capitalism. This book presents, with admirable clarity, the ideas drawn from Marxist political economy upon which his analysis rests. Anyone who wants to understand how we ended up here, where we are going, and what we should do about it must read The Long Depression."
Joseph Choonara, author of Unravelling Capitalism: A Guide to Marxist Political Economy

"Michael Roberts has established himself as one of the foremost bloggers and theoreticians of classical Marxism. Here he takes on the economic orthodoxy, both Keynesian and neoclassical, as to the causes of the Great Recession and of depressions in capitalism going back to the nineteenth century. [While] 'the new normal' and 'secular stagnation' have be[come] cliches rather than explanations for the slow growth in the world economy since the 2008 crash, Michael Roberts reaches deep into the history of capitalism to set out a Marxist explanation for recent developments."
Mick Brooks, author of Capitalist Crisis: Theory and Practice

"The Long Depression is an impressive review of the global economic crisis. Marshalling a wide range of evidence, Michael Roberts counters the facile explanations of establishment commentators and many 'alternative' economists, showing instead how the origins of this crisis, and other historical examples, have clear links to declining capitalist profitability. Covering a wide range of topics, from stagnant productivity growth and high unemployment to the prospects for the BRICS countries, robots, and climate change, this book will educate readers about the outlook for capitalism today."
Tony Norfield, author of The City: London and the Global Power of Finance

"...a comprehensive review of the world economy...Roberts is a respected blogger This year has been an annus mirabilis for Marxian political economy. It has to be said that some of the other writings do not make easy reading for the general reader. Roberts' book is fairly accessible to the non-specialist. It's your best bet."
Mick Brooks, Labour Briefing

"This book is accessible and thoroughly convincing. It is essential reading for those of us living in today's Long Depression who, like Roberts, see the need to replace capitalism with "a planned economy owned in common and controlled by the majority".
Mark Krantz, Socialist Review

"The attention to detail on specific economies, from the US, to Germany, to South Africa and more, is impressive The Long Depression is a good example of economics at its best."
Better Red than Dead
"Roberts is an unapologetic Marxist. All Marxists are aware that capitalism will not just collapse; it must be overthrown. But the system's weakness provides the labour movement's opportunity to transform society and get the fetters of the capitalist system off our backs. Nobody said it would be easy. There is much food for thought here." -Labour Briefing

"We would encourage every revolutionary, who wants to see how Marx's economic constructs can explain what underlies the capitalist economy today, to go out and get Michael Roberts' latest book. Without an understanding of the material basis of modern capitalism we can have no meaningful discussion about where we are headed, and what the challenges are that lie ahead. "The Long Depression" is an excellent and stimulating contribution to that task." -LeftCom

"This book is accessible and thoroughly convincing. It is essential reading for those of us living in today's Long Depression who, like Roberts, see the need to replace capitalism with "a planned economy owned in common and controlled by the majority." -Socialist Review

"Michael Roberts' The Long Depression is an accessible and important work of Marxist political economy." -Martin Empson, Resolute Reader

"The Long Depression is a fascinating book. Above all, it clearly identifies the extraordinary nature of the economic period through which we are living - economic conditions that have given rise to political phenomena such as the Brexit vote in the UK and the election of Trump in the US, and no doubt will present us with more surprises in the months and years to come." -Weekly Worker

"The Long Depression is a good example of economics at its best." -Better Red

"The book shows clearly the economic pressure bearing down on the ruling class across the world-and the limits of the options open to them. It exposes the hopelessness of their system, and serves as a valuable guide to the terrain on which the struggles against them will be fought." -International Socialism Journal

"Roberts' analysis of the problem of profitability is a valuable contribution." -Counterfire

"A coherent, well-argued and informed book accomplishing many tasks." -History of Economic Thought
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About Michael Roberts

Michael Roberts has worked as an economist for over 30 years in the City of London financial centre. He is author of The Great Recession: a Marxist view, published in 2009.
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Rating details

4.18 out of 5 stars
- 82 ratings
5 45% (37)
4 40% (33)
3 7% (6)
2 2% (2)
1 5% (4)
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