A Historical Materialist Approach to the Eurozone Crisis: Fictitious Capital, States, and Capital Accumulation
MetadataShow full item record
This dissertation examines the ongoing European sovereign debt crises that began with Greece in 2009, in the wake of the US subprime mortgage crisis. Through the application of a historical materialist approach, I attempt to understand the on-going crisis in the European Monetary Union (EMU) by investigating root causes of sovereign debt crises, relations of power, and main beneficiaries of the policy responses. My theoretical framework hinges on three contradictions in capitalism: the tendency towards overaccumulation, the tension between fictitious capital and the productive base, and the contradiction inherent in capitalist states between their role as a national state and as a class state. In contrast to the dominant positions that locate the cause of the crisis within either: debtor states; creditor states; or the framework at the EMU, I argue that these sovereign debt crises are actually a broader crisis of crisis of capitalism within the EMU itself. In order to do so, I trace the evolution of the political economy of the Eurozone in the post-Bretton woods era, with a particularly focus on the credit system. More specifically, I argue that these crises are the result of an interaction between three meso-level contradictions that have developed within the EMU region: 1) Germany’s postwar accumulation regime, which has produced a deep crisis of overaccumulation; 2) the contradictory processes associated with the neoliberal logic of the EMU, by which I mean the rush to lower barriers to credit and finance at the expense of all else; and 3) credit-fueled, consumption-based EMU integration in the periphery; and. These three contradictions came together in the wake of the 2007-2008 US subprime crisis to form an overall crisis of capitalism in the Eurozone, expressed, as I suggest, as a crisis of fictitious capital. This dissertation aims to contribute to the ongoing project among critical political economists to de-naturalize and re-politicize money, while challenging the hegemony of monetarism within neoliberalism. Second, there has yet to be a comprehensive study that examines the EMU, Germany, and the crises in the periphery from a holistic, historical materialist analysis.