cover image After the New Economy

After the New Economy

Doug Henwood. New Press, $24.95 (269pp) ISBN 978-1-56584-770-5

The tongue-in-cheek style of Left Business Observer editor Henwood's latest book is evident in the title, as Henwood believes little was novel about the economic boom of the 1990s. Techno-utopianism, as he puts it, is a recurring theme in the U.S. culture, and by picking through the ashes of this latest economic meltdown, Henwood (Wall Street: How It Works and For Whom) finds many choice nuggets to support his call for an end to the class warfare that he finds lurking beneath the torrent of New Economy discourse. After stating his general disdain for the""dismal science,"" Henwood cobbles together data from all specializations of economics to support his thesis. His analysis, not bound by the restrictions of economic theory and its complex interplay with demographics and history, implies that the social democracies of Scandinavia should serve as a model for the more""liberal"" systems of national governance. It's not a new theory, and Henwood does not get into the specifics of practice. He does, however, offer a perspective absent from most popular inquiries into recent economic realities--specifically, a gloomy forecast of a return to the low growth and global malaise of the 1970s coupled with the death of neo-liberalism. He uses that as a launching pad for delving into the simultaneity of the Reagan bull market with what he says was the erosion of well being for the average American, as well as for the majority of the world's people. The core of the book is the journey Henwood takes from boom to bust via a materialist analysis of the injustices inherent in postwar capitalist societies, injustices amplified and highlighted by the excesses if the 1990s. In the death knell of the""new economy"" is the call to create a""civilized welfare state.""