Financialism: A (Very) Brief History

Lawrence E. Mitchell, Case Western University School of Law


This essay describes various financial, economic, and legal developments in the United States from 1952 until 27 and argues that they suggest a transformation of the American economic system from capitalism to one I term "financialism." Financialism is a system in which the real economy plays a secondary role to the financial economy, in the process stripping future real economic profits for present consumption. While it bears similarities to the process often identified in the economic literature as "financialization," it differs both in historical scope and in its suggestion that financialism differs fundamentally from capitalism.