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Disorder: Hard Times in the 21st Century

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Understandably, there is nothing much here about the invasion of Ukraine where gas and oil take centre stage. The conclusion does has some speculation on how the shift to carbon neutral away from fossil fuels will change things.

Disorder (豆瓣) - 豆瓣读书 Disorder (豆瓣) - 豆瓣读书

Thompson warns the reader at the outset that she aims to privilege ‘the schematic over forensic detail’. She does not warn, but I must, that her prose is dotted with words like ‘constitutionalized’ and ‘delegitimating’, and that other words are used in a Red Queen sort of way (‘words mean what I say they mean’): ‘Britain joined most of its fellow EC members in eschewing American support for Israel’, for example. Helen Thompson is an erudite and incisive analyst of contemporary global affairs. Her commentary is steeped in history, economics, politics, and in particular the interplay of energy markets with the world in which we live.

Thompson frames her analysis in terms of material drivers – control over money, credit, arms, fossil fuels and to a modest extent, the absence of control over the climate breakdown. In the foreground is coercive power, yet the roles of non-material drivers, norms and goals, go largely unmentioned. Neoliberalism, politico-cultural strivings, chauvinisms and other kind of idea-driven politics remain offstage. She trenchantly evaluates the roles of powerful institutions like the IMF and central banks at the behest of Western interests, but not the orthodoxies they insist upon. (Fortunately, however, she does footnote important books about those matters by Slobodian and by Tooze.) Yet while foregoing additional ways to fortify the arguments, her materialist / realist account remains compelling.

Century’s Global “Disorder”? | The Nation What Is Fueling Our Century’s Global “Disorder”? | The Nation

As these plates spun, the financial markets appeared detached from the emerging geopolitical and economic risks. Monetary tightening might have ended NICE, but it would have next-to-no short-term effect on credit conditions for financial corporations. The Eurodollar markets had become their own world, detached not, since they offered various opportunities to politicians, from politics, but from the ability of central bankers to manage an economic cycle and disincentivize excessive risk taking. Only on 9 August 2007 did the mechanisms of the entire complex funding system on which banks depended dramatically break down. From that day, the international monetary and financial system ceased to function without systematic support from the American central bank.HT: In the way the distinction between optimism and pessimism is usually applied to politics, I am on the pessimistic side. I don’t think we, as humanity, or as the citizens of individual states or the EU, can collectively choose whatever future we wish. I think whatever the big political and indeed ethical problems that the whole structure of international finance creates, it would be impossible to dismantle it without a collapse. That does not mean everything around it is a given—but outside that collapse scenario, I don’t believe it can be radically transformed. We live in the world of quantitative easing now, and for the monetary and financial system to function, central banks have to maintain the confidence of international financial markets. I always try to give books a fair shake, but sometimes, it’s just not meant to be, and unfortunately, this was one of those times. I started it with enthusiasm (yes, I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to socio-political analyses), but ended up waving the white flag before reaching the end.

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