Before and beyond the global economic crisis: an introduction
In his presidential address to the annual meeting of the American Economic Association in 2003, Nobel laureate Robert Lucas declared that the problem of depression-prevention – the elusive goal of virtually all social and political projects of the twentieth century – had now been solved ‘for all practical purposes’ (Lucas 2003, p.1). Substantive reforms of financial regulation and of fiscal and monetary policies had finally achieved the synchronization of markets and politics that had eluded capitalist societies throughout the last century. As a consequence, the need for an interventionist state – except to perform the most basic of functions – had ceased to exist. Society and markets would and could instead continue to exist in harmonious interplay, shaped and reinforced by ideologies, norms and attitudes cherishing the values of individual self-determination and political restraint (Rodgers 2010). Lucas’s vision of a seamless integration of markets and society had spread widely by the mid-2000s, and taken up in notions like ‘capitalism unleashed’ in a finance-led economic growth model of remarkable stability and vitality (cf. Glyn 2007). Even more critical voices took the relative stability of the growth model more or less for granted and instead critiqued its articulation with global cultural and political processes (Hardt and Negri 2000). The stability of the growth model itself was never or only rarely questioned.