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The crisis in context democratic capitalism and its contradictions

  • Streeck, Wolfgang
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    The 'financial crisis' and its sequel, the current sovereign debt crisis, appear to be the latest permutations of an old conflict between capitalism and democracy that forcefully reasserted itself after the end of the postwar growth period. Today's calamities were preceded by high inflation in the late 1960s and 1970s, rising public deficits in the 1980s, and growing private indebtedness in the 1990s and 2000s. In each case, governments were faced with popular demands for prosperity and security that were incompatible with market allocation. Inflation, deficits and financial under-regulation should not be understood as results of faulty economic management but rather as temporary stopgaps to simultaneously satisfy democratic-political claims for social justice and economic claims for profitability. As the site of distributional conflict moved with time from the labor market and industrial relations to the politics of public spending, then to the provision of credit to private households, and from there to international fiscal diplomacy, it became increasingly insulated against popular democratic pressures. At the same time, the political and economic risks associated with the contradictions of democratic capitalism have increased, with potentially disruptive consequences for the social integration of democratic polities as well as for the system integration of advanced market economies.

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    Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in its series MPIfG Discussion Paper with number 11/15.

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    Date of creation: 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgd:1115
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    1. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2009. "Varieties of Crises and Their Dates
      [This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly]
      ," Introductory Chapters, Princeton University Press.
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