Have we entered a new Era of Social Organization: the Era of Financialization? Financialization is the increasing role of financial motives, financial markets, financial actors, and financial institutions in the operations of domestic and international economies. We could add, that financialization also increases all of these roles in the interaction with society more broadly. If we have have entered a new era of financialization: what does this mean about the way our economy works? Does it mean that the economy serves finance instead of finance serving the economy? What does it mean for the stability of the economy? Will a greater role for finance mean a less stable economy? What does it mean for the relationships among people? Does it mean, as Marx believed, that people will increasingly treat each others as "means" to the end of getting richer, rather than as "ends", people who are valuable in their own right? Or, is it all much ado about nothing? Will it simply mean, as Milton Friedman believed, a more efficient allocation of resources and an increase in the realm of freedom? These are issues that this course will address from an historical, history of thought, literary, media/cultural and practical perspective. Students will sharpen and bring together knowledge they have gained about basic economic theory and apply it through a historical and contextual study of the myriad ways in which finance and society have interacted over recent centuries, with a focus on the last 150 years or so. Students will be forced to confront history and practice with economic theory as they grapple with the fall-out from the biggest financial crash since the great depression of the 1930's. This course will satisfy the Integrative Experience requirement for BA-Econ majors.
- Teacher: Gerald Epstein