Lenin believed the last stage of capitalism had the following five features:
- the concentration of capital into monopolies that exert a powerful control over economic life
- the combination of bank and industrial capital into what he called "finance capital"
- a large importance placed on exporting capital as opposed to commodities
- the formation of monopolies that have international reach
- the division of the world into colonies controlled by imperialist powers
Lenin felt this late stage of capitalism would lead to wars, depressions, and revolutions because the inherent boom and bust cycle of capitalism would result in economic recessions and depressions. In addition, he believed the desire of capitalist powers to control other less-developed nations would result in wars caused by imperialism. This was indeed the case when Lenin wrote this book in 1916, during World War I. These imperialist wars would result in revolution among the members of the countries that capitalist countries attempted to control, and people in the capitalist countries who were subject to the economic depressions inherent in the capitalist cycle would also be prone to revolution. John Maynard Keynes would reject the idea that capitalism necessarily leads to boom and bust cycles, as he believed the government should intervene in the economy to prevent economic depressions and protect people from the parts of the capitalist cycle that Lenin thought would result in revolution.