The global financial crisis of 2008 ushered in a system of informal decision-making in the grey zone between economics and politics. Legitimized by a rhetoric of emergency, ad hoc bodies have usurped democratically elected governments. In line with the neoliberal credo, the recent crisis has been used to realize the politically impossible and to re-align executive power with the interests of the finance industry.
In this important book, Joseph Vogl offers a much longer perspective on these developments, showing how the dynamics of modern finance capitalism have always rested on a complex and constantly evolving relationship between private creditors and the state. Combining historical and theoretical analysis, Vogl argues that over the last three centuries, finance has become a "fourth estate," marked by the systematic interconnection of treasury and finance, of political and private economic interests.
Against this historical background, Vogl explores the latest phase in the financialization of government, namely the dramatic transfer of power from states to markets in the latter half of the 20th century. From the liberalization of credit and capital markets to the privatization of social security, he shows how policy has actively enabled a restructuring of the economy around the financial sector. Political systems are "imprisoned" by the regime of finance, while the corporate model suffuses society, enclosing populations in the production of financial capital.
The Ascendancy of Finance provides valuable and unsettling insight into the genesis of modern power and where it truly resides.
Country of Publication:
12 May 2017
Professional and scholarly
Contents Preface Chapter one Functional dedifferentiation Chapter two Economy and government Chapter three Seigniorial power Chapter four Apotheosis of finance Chapter five Fourth power Chapter six Reserves of sovereignty Notes Figure credits Index
Joseph Vogl is Professor of Modern German Literature, Literary, Media and Cultural Studies at the Humboldt University of Berlin. He is also permanent Visiting Professor at Princeton University.
Reviews for The Ascendancy of Finance
Who is sovereign in the modern state? working like a detective to trace the historical roots of the current financial and budgetary crisis and the interplay between markets and government action, Joseph Vogl gives a politically explosive answer to this question. -Jury, Leipzig Bookfair Prize A bold and clever treatise on political economy... A lively debate of the issues raised by this book would be greatly welcomed, being in its essence a debate about the image of the West... and how we might live under great fiscal uncertainty. -Suddeutsche Zeitung With stunning erudition Vogl explores the dark corners of the neoliberal political economy, where states fuse with finance and the public power is simultaneously marketized and de-democratized. Anchored in a concise history of the modern state and its claims to sovereignty, Vogl's analysis focuses on the strangest creation of modern capitalism, money. -Wolfgang Streeck, emeritus director, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, Cologne It is no overstatement to call this book groundbreaking. In The Ascendancy of Finance, Joseph Vogl recasts nearly half a millennia of economic history to argue that the symbiosis of the finance and political spheres is longstanding, and that the informalization of policy-making, as seen most dramatically in 2008, threatens to bypass democracy. Indispensable reading, and, in these tumultuous times, the Ascendancy of Finance is both illuminating and chilling. -Janine Wedel, George Mason University `In elegant historical-institutionalist fashion, Vogl recounts the long story of modern money's development, tracing the co-evolution of sovereign states and financial markets-each needing the other in defence of its own credit and credibility.' -New Left Review