Capitalism’s Hardwiring: Money, Credit, and Finance in a Globalizing World




This year-long seminar takes capitalism’s monetary hardwiring as its subject. Twice within the last two decades, the United States has kicked the monetary apparatus that formats its economy into crisis gear. Each time, the government leapt to rescue a financial infrastructure that had grown indispensable to modern markets even as it escaped the mooring of the “real economy.” The crises we experience immediately expose a system fashioned over centuries. In the seminar, we will explore capitalism’s hardwiring, defined broadly to include those architectures of finance and credit that today so profoundly shape material distribution, political voice, and disciplinary knowledge. The seminar will focus on the United States but locate that experience as part of a global drama, one that travels from the domestic law on bank liabilities to the geography of the Gold Standard, from the human tragedy of slave mortgages to the disembodied dynamics of foreign exchange markets, and from the parochial assumptions of theorists to the universalizing abstractions of their theory.