By Amartya Sen
Exactly 90 years ago, in March 1919, faced with another economic crisis, Vladimir Lenin discussed the dire straits of contemporary capitalism. He was, however, unwilling to write an epitaph: “To believe that there is no way out of the present crisis for capitalism is an error.” That particular expectation of Lenin’s, unlike some he held, proved to be correct enough.
J.K. Galbraith wrote that 1929 stood alongside 1066, 1776, 1914, 1945 and 1989 in its importance. The world today was shaped by the efforts of governments to overcome the economic meltdown of the 1930s – and the consequences of their failures. Even if this economic crisis is not as bad as the Great Depression, it will have epoch-moulding consequences. This week the Financial Times starts a series on the Future of Capitalism. Much, however, depends on the success of next month’s meeting of the Group of 20 in London and how successful governments are at ending this worldwide crisis.