Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital: The Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages

In This Review

Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital: The Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages

By Carota Perez
Edward Elgar, 2002
198 pp. $65.00

A broad-sweep "think piece" in the Schumpeterian spirit, this book discusses the relationship between major technological innovations and financial booms and busts. Perez applies a four-phase dynamic sequence -- innovation, frenzy, synergy, and maturity -- to five significant innovations: textile production in the 1770s, steam and railways in the 1830s, steel and electricity in the 1870s, automobiles and oil in the 1910s, and information and telecommunications in the 1970s. Each innovation took two to three decades to complete those four phases, including a period of frenetic investment culminating in a financial bust. The transitions entailed significant social and economic transformation not only in financial innovation but in law, regulatory framework, corporate structure and governance, and public expectations. The provocative thesis links some (but not all) financial crises directly to the euphoria generated by new technological innovations, leading to expectations of higher-than-normal returns, followed by financial innovation, dissipation of traditional caution, and exploitation of enthusiastic investors by unscrupulous businessmen and investment bankers. According to Perez, it is about time to enter the synergistic "golden age" of the revolution in information technology.

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