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Opinion
Jared Dillian

SPACs Aren't the Only Examples of Late Capitalism

Excesses throughout the financial system raise the odds that the next recession could be our last as a free-market economy.

Is Karl Marx finally about to defeat capitalism? 

Is Karl Marx finally about to defeat capitalism? 

Photographer: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Back in 2017, “late capitalism” was flourishing on Twitter. At the time, The Atlantic researched the origin and use of the phrase and found it was used to describe the excesses resulting from a free-market economy, like $1,200 margaritas, that suggest its downfall is at hand. It’s not that those throwing around the phrase were wrong, just perhaps a bit too early.

A contemporary example of late capitalism might be the GameStop Corp. saga and the idea that it’s reasonable for a stock price to become untethered from the underlying value of a business. Or the proliferation of SPACs, which are the latest version of “blank check” companies. Or non-fungible tokens (NFTs), where cryptocurrency millionaires recycle their gains into pieces of digital art.