As the world suffers the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, global justice activists pursue political solutions to its devastating consequences especially on the weakest sections of the world’s population. I analyse activists’ responses to the 2008 financial crisis to reflect on how collective action is impacted by social crises. The global justice movement and the financial sector face recurring, intertwined, and inversely related cycles of exuberance and crash. I find that, on the one hand, the prevalence and intensity of recurring crises in large transnational collective actors depend on factors including their prevalent emotional dynamics, their dispositions towards their objectives, and their ability to gauge external reality. On the other hand, differential outcomes of crises in groups are accounted for by the capacity to mourn the losses suffered, as opposed to the denial of responsibility and the externalisation of blame. I analyse these emotional dynamics through psychoanalytic lenses to provide a contribution to the literature on the cycles of collective action and, more broadly, to the study of political action and social change.