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Reviewed by Tony Norfield
Finance Capital Today: Corporations and Banks in the Lasting Global Slump
By François Chesnais
Brill, Leiden, 2016
January 10, 2017 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Economics of Imperialism – This book is well worth reading. It is written in a clear and accessible style and discusses key points about the limitations of capitalism and the role of contemporary finance. Perhaps its most important point is how the financial system has accumulated vast claims on the current and future output of the world economy – in the form of interest payments on loans and bonds, dividend payments on equities, etc. These claims have outgrown the ability of the capitalist system to meet them, but government policy has so far managed to prevent a collapse of financial markets with zero interest rate policies, quantitative easing, huge deficits in government spending over taxation, and so forth. The result is an unresolved crisis, a ‘lasting global slump’, in which economic growth remains very weak and vast debts remain in place.
By Dick Nichols
November 1, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — The trials of major European banks, starting with “venerable institutions” like the Monte dei Paschi di Siena (the world’s oldest bank) and Deutsche Bank (Germany’s largest), have raised the spectre of another 2008 — a “Lehman Brothers times five” in the words of one finance market analyst.
By John Weeks, Eric Toussaint, Stavros Tombazos, Pritam Singh, Benjamin Selwyn, Alfredo Saad Filho, Patrick Saurin, Sabri Öncü, Susan Pashkoff, Ozlem Onaran, Thomas Marois, Philippe Marlière, Francisco Louça, Stathis Kouvelakis, Andy Kilmister, Michel Husson, Michael Hudson, David Harvey, Pete Green, Giorgos Galanis, Alan Freeman, Gilbert Achar, Costas Lapavitsas
Plan B for Europe - Appeal to build a European area of work in order to end austerity and build a true democracy.
By Susan George, Yanis Varoufakis, Ada Colau, Zoe Konstantopoulou, Ken Loach, Noam Chomsky, et. al
January 19, 2016 - Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Plan B Europa - In July 2015, we witnessed a financial coup d’état carried out by the European Union and its institutions against the Greek Government, condemning the Greek population to continue suffering the austerity policies that had been rejected on two occasions in the polls. This coup has intensified the debate over the power of the EU, and by extension it’s institutions, its incompatibility with democracy, and its role as guarantor of the basic human rights demanded by European citizens.
We know that there are alternatives to austerity. Manifestos such as “For a Plan B in Europe“, “Austerexit” or DiEM25 (Democracy in Europe Movement 2025) denounce the blackmail of the third memorandum of understanding imposed against Greece, the catastrophe that it would cause and the antidemocratic nature of the EU. The President of the European Commission no less, Jean -Claude Juncker, said : ” There can be no democratic decision against European treaties “.
By Martin Hart-Landsberg
August 14, 2015 -- Reports from the the economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- China’s economy is dramatically slowing and this has significant consequences for world growth. The figure above provides a good visualisation of the slowdown and why official statistics likely overstate China’s current official growth rate of 7%.
Vast public subsidies may be pumped through the new “Programme for Infrastructure Development for Africa”
Click for more by Patrick Bond.
By Patrick Bond, Durban
August 10, 2015 – a version was first published in TeleSUR English, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- Foreign direct investment (FDI) is always prefaced with the two words ‘much needed”, my colleague Sarah Bracking insisted last week at a Zimbabwe NGO conference. “Have you ever heard FDI referenced without those two words?” We all shook our heads.
"But the banks are made of marble, with a guard at every door, and the vaults are stuffed with silver, that the worker sweated for ..." -- "The Banks are made of Marble" was written circa 1948 by Les Rice and recorded by Pete Seeger among others.
By John Rainford
July 2, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Across Africa, western Asia and Latin America in the 1980s, the growth of per capita GDP was brought to a halt. This was not a recession, it was a severe depression, and its cause was profligate lending by banks in the 1970s.
In the 1960s, the Eurocurrency (as opposed to the euro) had been invented. US dollars deposited in non-US banks and held there in order to avoid restrictions of US laws became negotiable financial instruments that formed the basis for an unregulated market specialising in short-term loans.
In 1964 the market was estimated at US$14 billion, but by 1978 it was close to $500 billion after it became the chief mechanism for investing the massive oil profits of the Organization of Petrol Exporting Countries (OPEC) cartel, which managed to quadruple oil prices in 1973 and treble them again in the late 1970s. In 1970, the average price for a barrel of oil was US$2.53, in 1980 it was about $41.
For more by or about Marta Harnecker, click HERE.
By Marta Harnecker, translated by María Poblete and Federico Fuentes
April 17, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This text incorporates much of booklet #2 from the original series Cuadernos de Educación Popular (Booklets for Popular Education), which was titled “What is socialism?” and was written by Marta Harnecker in collaboration with Gabriela Uribe. This series was published in Chile during the Popular Unity government, lef by Salvador Allende, and was reprinted in various countries and languages. The text has been revised, some errors have been corrected, and supplementary examples and text boxes have been added, in order to make it easier to comprehend some of the complex ideas it tackles.
In this Booklet for Popular Education we hope to study the fundamental mechanism that explains why, under capitalism, you have a small group of people who possess a lot of wealth and enjoy an easy life, while a significant portion of workers find themselves in a very difficult situation.
Zoe Konstantopoulou (centre) with Eric Toussaint (right).
For more discussion on SYRIZA's struggle against austerity, click HERE
By Eric Toussaint, translated by Christine Pagnoulle and Vicki Briault
March 21, 2015 -- Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt (CADTM), posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The president of the Greek parliament, Zoe Konstantopoulou, has set up a commission to audit the Greek debt and has asked me to play an active part in it. I have accepted the role to assume its scientific coordination.
This commission was launched on March 17, 2015, in Athens. |1|Recently the Athens correspondent for Le Monde wrote,
[English text and video at http://links.org.au/node/4156.]
Mike Treen, directeur national du syndicat Unite, explique pourquoi le capitalisme continue à connaître des crises aujourd’hui, et pourquoi ces crises vont se répéter avec une sévérité accrue jusqu’à ce que les travailleurs prennent le pouvoir et imposent une propriété, un contrôle et une planification démocratiques pour répondre aux besoins à la fois de l’humanité et de Mère Nature.
* * *
Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – Ce qui suit est basé sur les propos de Mike Treen, directeur national du syndicat néozélandais Unite, à la conférence annuelle de l’organisation socialiste Fightback, qui s’est tenue à Wellington, 31 mai – 1er juin 2014, et un séminaire hébergé par Socialist Aotearoa le 12 octobre. Traduit par Gabriel Stollsteiner
Pablo Iglesias. Credit: La Veu del País Valencià (CC-BY-SA-3.0).
January 28, 2015 -- EUROPP – European Politics and Policy, London School of Economics, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Following SYRIZA’s victory in the Greek election on January 25, a number of commentators have turned their attention toward Spain, where the left-wing Podemos party, which originally emerged from the Indignados protest movement, has been receiving strong polling numbers since the end of 2014.
Here Vicente Navarro writes on the growth of Podemos and his role in shaping the party’s economic program. He argues that the anti-austerity and pro-democracy narrative put forward by Podemos has deeply resonated with the Spanish electorate, and that the party now poses a major threat to Spain's political establishment.
Click HERE for more on SYRIZA.
January 13, 2015 -- Yanis Varoufakis, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Beginning at 3.55 minutes, Yanis Varoufakis, professor of economic theory at the University of Athens, discusses the European economic crisis and expalins why he has chosen to be a SYRIZA candidate for parliament in the January 25, 2015, general election.
Click for more by Patrick Bond.
By Patrick Bond, Durban
December 22, 2014 -- TeleSUR English, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- In a Washington Post op-ed on December 17, 2014, "The IMF's Perestroika Moment", Boston University political economists Cornel Ban and Kevin Gallagher suggested "conventional wisdom" about the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is "outdated" because the IMF is no longer "a global agent of economic orthodoxy". Hmmm.
By Damien Cahill, Sydney
December 4, 2014 -- Damien Cahill: Thoughts on Politics, Economy and Culture, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Earlier this year Ed Miliband, leader of the British Labour Party, addressed a specially organised gathering of business leaders with the following words: “I would be a prime minister who champions the rights of the consumer and the rights of businesses to succeed and make profits in a competitive market at the same time.”
That such sentiments could be expressed by a Labour leader in the neoliberal era is unremarkable. Social-democratic parties have been falling over themselves during the last few decades to reassure capital that, not only have they jettisoned their socialist inheritance, they are also firmly on board with the neoliberal agenda.
For British Labour, Miliband is just the latest in a series of leaders that have driven the party to embrace neoliberalism.
November 10, 2014 -- Mike Treen, Unite Union national director, discusses why capitaism continues to have crises today and why they will continue with increasing severity until working people take power and impose democratic ownership, control and planning to suit the needs of both humanity and Mother Earth.
November 10, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The following is based on talks given by Mike Treen, national director of the New Zealand Unite Union, at the annual conference of the socialist organisation Fightback, held in Wellington, May 31-June 1, 2014, and a seminar hosted by Socialist Aotearoa in Auckland on October 12.
* * *
The National Business Review reported a comment by New Zealand's minister of finance Bill English on August 15 that he had occasionally pointed out in speeches to business audiences that New Zealand has had post World War Two recessions roughly every 10 years: in 1957-58; 1967-68; the mid-1970s; the mid-1980s; 1997-98 and 2007-8. He would observe laconically: “You'd think we would see them coming.”
But of course bourgeois economists, commentators and journalists don't generally see them coming. One problem, however, is that sometimes the Marxist alternative sees them coming a little too often.
Trade unions in Greece have announced a general strike against austerity to take place on November 27, 2014.
By Dick Nichols
November 4, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- For 48 hours it looked as if Thursday, October 16, 2014 might join similar October Thursdays in 1907, 1929 and 1979 as another dramatic moment when share market panic triggered economic downturn.
However, it was not to be. The three trillion dollar slump in world share market values in the first two-and-half-weeks of October has so far been partially reversed by a coordinated effort of “calm engineering” by central bankers. But how long can that treatment—whose message to the gambling fund managers is that interest rates will stay low—succeed?
By Michael Roberts
October 15, 2014 -- Michael Roberts Blog, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This time last year, I outlined the results of the Global Wealth report published by Credit Suisse Bank (see http://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/global-wealth-inequality-10-own-86-1-own-41-half-own-just-1/). Compiled by Tony Shorrocks and Jim Davies, formerly at the UN, that report showed that the top 1% owned 41% of all the personal wealth in the world; the top 10% owned 86% and the bottom 50% of owned less than 1% of all the wealth. This staggering level of inequality certainly attracted interest and my post on this was the most popularly viewed one on my blog ever.
[Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal urges its readers to consider taking out a subscription to Monthly Review, where this article first appeared. Click HERE for more on Marxism and ecology.]
By Fred Magdoff
September 2014 -- Monthly Review, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Two weeks ago I returned from my fiftieth class reunion at Oberlin College in Ohio. The brief discussions I had there with environmental faculty and students left me feeling a bit dazed. So many good and intelligent people, so concerned, and doing what they think and hope will help heal the environment—this college has one of the best environmental education programs in the country.
By Don Fitz
July 9, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The world has over half a century of experience with programs that claim to help nature or feed the planet while they do the opposite. The twin crises of the early 21st century are economic and ecological collapse. Should we increase production to create more jobs and accept horrible environmental damage? Or, should we protect a livable world at the cost of causing more unemployment?
An increasingly popular answer is the “Green New Deal” (GND): create “green jobs” in order to jump start the economy. But the GND might not provide long term employment and could cause major environmental harm. Digging beneath the surface appearance of the GND requires exploring its family tree: the “Green Revolution”, green capitalism and the “Green Economy”.
The Green Revolution
Hugo Chavez addresses oil workers in 2007, pushing for more national control of the country's oil.
For more on Venezuela, click HERE.
By Oliver Levingston
February 10, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This paper adopts a Marxian class analysis to dispute the orthodox critique of high inflation in contemporary Venezuela. It draws a parallel between the 2002-03 oil industry lock-out and the capital strike in the Venezuelan foodstuffs industry today. In each case, capital has suspended production to bid up the price of basic goods and create widespread shortages.
Orthodox economists have cited worsening output and rising inflation in the aftermath of the capital strike to demand fiscal austerity and restrictive monetary policy.