The authors point to writers who say that financialization increases the likelihood of economic bubbles and underlying stagnation but disagree with them for saying that financialization is an avoidable, reformable problem within capitalism. In fact, they write, financialization is the most sensible, rational course for a mature capitalist economy that has produced all the wealth that it is going to under present political-economic conditions:
Yet, the idea of the “crowding out” of investment by financial speculation makes little sense, in our view, when placed in the present context of an economy characterized by rising excess capacity and vanishing net investment opportunities. There are just so many profitable outlets for capital in the real economy of goods and services. A very narrow limit exists with regard to the number of profit-generating opportunities associated with the creation of new or expanded automobile or appliance manufacturers, hair salons, fast food outlets, and so on. Under these circumstances of a capital accumulation process that lacks profitable outlets and constantly stalls, the amassing of more and more debt (and the inflation of asset prices that this produces) is a powerful lever, as we have seen, in stimulating growth. Conversely any slowdown in the ballooning of debt threatens that growth. This is not to say that debt should be regarded as a cure-all. To the contrary, for the weak underlying economy of today no amount of debt stimulus is enough. It is in the nature of today’s monopoly-finance capital that it “tends to become addicted to debt: more and more is needed just to keep the engine going.”32
Still, as important as financialization has become in the contemporary economy, this should not blind us to the fact that the real problem lies elsewhere: in the whole system of class exploitation rooted in production. In this sense financialization is merely a way of compensating for the underlying disease affecting capital accumulation itself. As Marx wrote in Capital, “The superficiality of political economy shows itself in the fact that it views the expansion and contraction of credit as the cause of the periodic alterations of the industrial cycle, while it is a mere symptom of them.” Despite the vast expansion of credit-debt in the capitalism of today, it remains true that the real barrier to capital is capital itself: manifested in the tendency toward overaccumulation of capital.
So, we don't need to reform capitalism. We need to replace it.