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A sustained period of significant growth in the US, however, seemed to save the day against all the odds. So impressive was the surface appearance of this rescue mission that all manner of commentators proclaimed once again that a 'new ecomy' or 'new paradigm' of unlimited and harmonious growth had been forged. Today, as recession looms, the babble about Internet start-ups is exposed as vapid. Yet the pundits are nearer an understanding of how or why the boom turned into a bubble, or why the bubble has burst. In this crisp and forensic book, Robert Brenner demonstrates that the boom was always a fragile phemen buoyed up by absurd levels of debt and stock-market overvaluation which never broke free from the fundamental malady of overcapacity and overproduction which continues to afflict the global ecomy. Carefully dismantling the myths and hype that surround the US boom in terms of profitability, investment, and productivity, Brenner restores the properly international context to the process. He portrays the 'zero-sum' character of the American success, which presupposed the relative weakness of its main German and Japanese competitors: a strategy that has laid huge obstacles in the path of a 'soft landing' to end the current phase of growth.
Robert Brenner is Director of the Center for Social Theory and Comparative History at UCLA. He is the author of The Boom and the Bubble, Merchants and Revolution, The Economics of Global Turbulence and co-editor of Rebel Rank and File.