The most frightening thing about the lack of agreement on what happened last time is that the next crisis could hit before long, writes Prospect Editor Tom Clark in the foreword to our August issueby Tom Clark / July 20, 2017 / Leave a comment
Published in August 2017 issue of Prospect Magazine
Not everything that has happened in these last 10 years can be traced back to the financial crisis: the iPhone was, after all, launched in 2007. But nearly everything can be. The financial fallout remains palpable. Old ideas about annual pay rises and meaningful interest on savings have vanished, while food banks have become part of society’s furniture.
Just as significant as the economic consequences are, however, the many, more diffuse effects—from a narrowing, nostalgic culture of comfort food and historical fiction, to the wild, wide-open and polarised politics. There is simply no hope of making sense of the way that the world has gone over this decade, without first going back to the tremors first felt on the money markets 10 summers ago. Everyone from George Osborne to Jeremy Corbyn can agree that everything has changed in the long shadow of the crisis, but that is where all agreement ends. For much of the time in much of the world, austerity has been the reigning idea since, but it has always been bitterly divisive. In Britain, after seven long years of retrenchment and often-anaemic growth, it now appears that the approach is being quietly abandoned. There is, however, little serious thinking—still less any consensus—on what comes next.
Perhaps that is not surprising since there are, as Adam Tooze sets out, still major shortcomings in the standard accounts of why the crash happened and how the banking system was pulled back from the brink. Yes, we’ve read accounts of the money men playing pass the parcel-bomb with ingeniously packaged debt, but we’ve still not got our heads around how exactly the crisis went worldwide. The fundamental mismatch, Tooze explains, was that between a borde…