The Economics of Global Turbulence: The Advanced Capitalist Economies from Long Boom to Long Downturn, 1945-2005

A commanding survey of the world economy from 1950 to the present, from the author of the acclaimed The Boom and the Bubble.

For years, the discipline of economics has been moving steadily away from the real world towards formalized axioms and mathematical models with only a precarious bearing on actuality. Commentators seek to fill the gap as best they can, but in the absence of real background scholarship, journalism is vulnerable to the myopias of fashion and immediacy. The deeper enigmas of post-war development remain in either case largely untouched.

Bringing together the strengths of both the economist and the historian, Robert Brenner rises to this challenge. In this work, a revised and newly introduced edition of his acclaimed New Left Review special report, he charts the turbulent post-war history of the global system and unearths the mechanisms of over-production and over-competition which lie behind its long-term crisis since the early 1970s, thereby demonstrating the thoroughly systematic factors behind wage repression, high unemployment and unequal development, and raising disturbing and far-reaching questions about its future trajectory.


  • “A brilliant economic overview of the world’s current economic state.”
  • “Here, at last—something good out of the left.”
  • “Robert Brenner [is] arguably capital’s most lucid contemporary historian.”


  • The Dynamics of Retreat: An Interview with Robert Brenner

    Bhaskar Sunkara’s interview with Robert Brenner, on the forces that made and unmade the American welfare state, was first published in Jacobin.

    (The Memorial Day Massacre: Chicago police attack Republic Steel strikers)

    Bhaskar Sunkara: When people think about the New Deal, there are two main accounts. In one of them, Franklin Roosevelt is the hero, leading a band of workers against the big capitalists who had just driven us into an economic depression. On the other extreme, there are those who make it seem like Roosevelt was acting solely in the interest of elites smart enough to want to save capitalism from itself. Which is closer to the truth?

    Robert Brenner: I would say that the key to the emergence of the New Deal reforms was the transformation in the level and character of working-class struggle. Within a year or two of Roosevelt’s election, we saw the sudden emergence of a mass militant working-class movement. This provided the material base, so to speak, for the transformation of working-class consciousness and politics that made Roosevelt’s reforms possible.

    Following the labor upsurge and radicalization that came in the wake of World War I, workers’ militancy tailed off, and the 1920s saw the American capitalist class at the peak of its power, confidence, and productiveness, in total command of industry and politics. Manufacturing productivity rose more rapidly during this decade than ever before or since, the open shop (which banned union contracts) prevailed everywhere, the Republican Party of big business reigned supreme, and the stock market broke all records.

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  • Precarisation, Indebtedness, Giving Time: Interlacing Lines across Maria Eichorn’s 5 weeks, 25 days, 175 hours - Isabell Lorey

    At 6pm on 23 April, following a day-long crowded symposium in the otherwise empty Chisenhale Gallery in London, the doors and gates were locked, and a sign affixed to the railings. The next exhibition: Maria Eichorn's 5 weeks, 25 days, 175 hours - a 5 week exhibition which gives every member of staff at the Gallery full-paid time off work to do whatever they want as long as that doesn't involve working at the Gallery.

    Eichorn's work investigates the intersection of contemporary economic and social conditions. To accompany the exhibition, the Chisenhale Gallery have produced a catalogue featuring reflections on Eichorn's work from Stewart Martin and Isabell Lorey - which is reproduced below. For the full catalogue and for more information about the exhibition visit the Chisenhale Gallery's website.

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  • “From the hegemony of liberalism... to an ascendancy of the right” by Robert Brenner

    In this extract from an essay that originally appeared in the January-February 2007 edition of New Left Review, Robert Brenner reads the 2006 US mid-term Democrat victory against the rightward structural shift in the American polity. Robert Brenner is the author of many vital books on global economics including: The Boom and the Bubble, Merchants and Revolution, and The Economics of Global Turbulence

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Other books by Robert Brenner