Jonathan Levy, University of Chicago | Newberry

Jonathan Levy, University of Chicago

Friday, September 30, 2016


Center for American History and Culture Programs
History of Capitalism Seminar

The New Economy Revisted

During the 1990s, in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US economy soared. For the first time since the 1970s, across the board every macroeconomic indicator was up – growth, capital investment, productivity, median real wages. But then, after the collapse of the stock market bubble in 2000, the US economy slid backwards – before falling off the cliff after the financial panic of 2008. Today, in the aftermath of the Great Recession, what, if anything, was new about the New Economy? Were the 1990s a moment of genuine capitalist transformation? Or was the New Economy nothing more than a stock market bubble, culminating in a series of accounting frauds, leading inexorably to only yet another financial bubble in the 2000s housing market?

This paper takes up these questions, exploring questions of finance, technology, business organization, globalization, and work to argue that, yes, there was something new about the New Economy. In two senses. First, the nature of valuation under capitalism began to exhibit new characteristics. Second, by the end of the 1990s, it was clear that the relationship between the US and the world economy had fundamentally transformed since the 1970s. A second US empire had emerged, which reversed many of the relationships between the US and the world – in trade flows, in capital flows – that took root after WWII, when the US first ascended to global supremacy.

Cost and Registration Information 

Scholl Center Seminars are pre-circulated. For a copy of the paper, email the Scholl Center at Please do not request a paper unless you plan to attend.