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This new book by two distinguished Italian economists is a highly original contribution to our understanding of the origins and aftermath of the financial crisis. The authors show that the recent financial crisis cannot be understood simply as a malfunctioning in the subprime mortgage market: rather, it is rooted in a much more fundamental transformation, taking place over an extended time period, in the very nature of finance.

The ‘end’ or purpose of finance is to be found in the social institutions by which the making and acceptance of promises of payment are made possible - that is, the creation and cancellation of debt contracts within a specified time frame. Amato and Fantacci argue that developments in the modern financial system by which debts are securitized has endangered this fundamental credit/debt structure. The illusion has been created that debts are universally liquid in the sense that they need not be redeemed but can be continually sold on in increasingly extensive global markets. What appears to have reduced the riskiness of default for individual agents has in fact increased the fragility of the system as a whole.

The authors trace the origins of this profound transformation backwards in time, not just to the neoliberal reforms of the 1980s and 90s but to the birth of capitalist finance in the mercantile networks of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This long historical perspective and deep analysis of the nature of finance enables the authors to tackle the challenges we face today in a fresh way - not simply by tinkering with existing mechanisms, but rather by asking the more profound question of how institutions might be devised in which finance could fulfil its essential functions.
This new book by two leading economists is a far-reaching analysis of the role and organization of the financial system in the aftermath of the economic crisis. The authors argue that the financial markets, as currently organized, hinder genuine market transactions and therefore harm the economy, along with any chance of sustained recovery.

Despite the crisis, the power of the financial markets has continued to grow. Far from being subjected to major restructuring or regulation, they continue to rule largely unchecked - laying down economic policies, deposing governments, disrupting social contracts and reshaping international alliances. The time has come to think through more radical proposals for reform - to save other markets from the overwhelming power of the one market that has come to dominate them all, the financial market.

Through a detailed examination of specific measures - from policies aimed at reigning in financial markets to the idea of local currencies that could be used to foster economic development within localities and regions - the authors develop a set of proposals that would help to revitalize markets, free them from the domineering power of finance and re-establish the relationship between creditor and debtor that was severed by the rise of the modern financial system.

Building on their very successful work The End of Finance, this new and timely book will appeal to students of economics, politics and sociology as well as to general readers interested in one of the key issues of our time.
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