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John Bellamy Foster & Robert W. McChesney: Global stagnation and China

[Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal urges its readers to consider taking out a subscription to Monthly Review, where this article first appeared.]

[For more discussion on China's economic and political development, click HERE.]

By John Bellamy Foster and Robert W. McChesney

February 2012 -- Monthly Review -- Five years after the Great Financial Crisis of 2007–09 began there is still no sign of a full recovery of the world economy. Consequently, concern has increasingly shifted from financial crisis and recession to slow growth or stagnation, causing some to dub the current era the Great Stagnation.1 Stagnation and financial crisis are now seen as feeding into one another. Thus IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde declared in a speech in China on November 9, 2011, in which she called for the rebalancing of the Chinese economy:

What happened to the gravediggers?

By John Rainford

December 3, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In his survey of developments in Western Marxism from the time of the Russian Revolution, Perry Anderson sets out a number of questions for enquiry into the future of historical materialism. These questions, which range from the structure of bourgeois democracy and revolutionary strategy to the contemporary laws of motion of capitalism, are not directly taken up here. This paper focuses on how his precondition for their solution, “the rise of a mass revolutionary movement, free of organisational constraint, in the homelands of industrial capitalism”1 might be realised.

Anderson notes that almost all of the theorists of historical materialism, beginning with Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, have been intellectuals from the “possessing classes” – and indeed of higher rather than lower bourgeois origin. Antonio Gramsci, with an exceptional background of poverty, was nevertheless born at some distance from the working class.2 What follows is an attempt, in the Gramscian tradition, to test Anderson’s assertion that in the long run, the future of Marxist theory lies with theorists produced by the industrial working class.3

Can China save the world from economic crisis?

By Jean Sanuk

November 15, 2011 -- Asia Left Observer -- While North America and Europe were hard hit, China has resisted the international crisis of 2008 thanks to a rescue plan which combined huge public spending, a low interest rate and consumption subsidies. China’s growth rate reached 9% in 2009 and 10.4% in 2010, dragging in its wake Asia and Latin America out of the crisis. It has also managed to maintain unemployment to a sustainable level. China even overtook Japan, in 2010, as the second-largest economy in the world in terms of GDP and it is closing the gap with the US. On the whole, China’s rise seems unaffected by the subprime crisis. A closer look shows that real problems lie ahead.

Boris Kagarlitsky: Políticas económicas después de la muerte del neoliberalismo

Boris Kagarlitsky.

[In English at http://www.links.org.au/node/2593.]

Por Boris Kagarlitsky, traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Germán Leyens

El sistema económico internacional que se perfiló después del colapso de la Unión Soviética todavía no está muerto, pero está moribundo. Lo vemos todos los días, no solo en informes sobre la crisis sino también en otras noticias de todo el mundo que cuentan la misma historia: el sistema no funciona.

La verdad es que el sistema nunca ha funcionado para los pobres y las clases trabajadoras. No se diseñó con ese propósito, no importa lo que nos digan todo el tiempo sus propagandistas y diversos intelectuales corruptos. El sistema funcionó para las elites: generó una tremenda redistribución de la riqueza y del poder a favor de los que ya eran ricos y poderosos. Aunque las elites no tienen suficiente coraje para admitirlo, hay que transformar el sistema.

David Harvey addresses #OccupyLSX: The best system money can buy

November 12, 2011 -- Professor David Harvey addresses Occupy London Stock Exchange (#OccupyLSX) Tent City University about the global capitalist crisis and the Occupy movement. For more videos of talks at the Tent City University visit http://tentcityuniversity.occupylsx.org.

Martin Hart-Landsberg: Yes, Virginia, there is a 1%

For more on the Occupy movement, click HERE.

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

October 24-November 7, 2011 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The Occupy Wall Street movement has succeed in forcing the media to acknowledge the extent and seriousness of income inequality. In many ways wealth inequality is a bigger problem, since it is wealth that largely underpins income and power differences.

According to an Economic Policy Institute posting,

the richest 5 percent of households obtained roughly 82 percent of all the nation’s gains in wealth between 1983 and 2009. The bottom 60 per cent of households actually had less wealth in 2009 than in 1983, meaning they did not participate at all in the growth of wealth over this period.

It is worth dividing the top 5% into what has now become two familiar groups, the top 1% and the next 4%.

Boris Kagarlitsky: Economic policies after the death of neoliberalism

Boris Kagarlitsky.

By Boris Kagarlitsky

November 2, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The international economic system that took shape after the collapse of the Soviet Union is not dead yet, but it is dying. We see that daily, not only in reports on the crisis but also in other news from around the world that tells the same story: the system isn’t working.

The truth is that the system has never worked for the poor and for the toiling classes. It wasn’t designed for that purpose, no matter what its propagandists and various corrupt intellectuals keep telling us. The system did work for the elites; it generated a tremendous redistribution of wealth and power in favour of those already rich and powerful, in favour of the bourgeoisie. But now it no longer delivers even for them. Though the elites aren’t brave enough to admit it, the system has to be transformed.

This is a real systemic crisis, if not for capitalism, then at least for its neoliberal form. And this crisis can’t be overcome until neoliberalism is eliminated. Whether this will also be the end of capitalism will depend on the scale of global struggles and their outcomes.

Introducing the Robin Hood tax

Notes from a talk at Occupy Wellington on October 29, 2011, to coincide with the #RobinHood global march 

By Grant Brookes, Tax Justice Campaign (New Zealand)

The campaign for a Robin Hood tax began a little over 18 months ago with a little-noticed launch in London. Supporters from a handful of British charities, faith groups and trade unions projected images onto the Bank of England, in an effort to lobby the British government to introduce a new tax on banks to tackle poverty and climate change. Today, it has become a global movement.

It's easy to see why it has been taken up by large parts of the Occupy movement, which also began as a small gathering on Wall Street opposing US corporate greed and the role of the top 1% in dictating priorities in Washington. That too has now become a global awakening.

'The EU Crisis Pocket Guide' for the 99%

October 2011 -- The Transnational Institute has produced a useful pocket guide -- The EU Crisis Pocket Guide -- on how a crisis made in Wall Street was made worse by EU policies, how it has enriched the 1% to the detriment of the 99%, and outlining some possible solutions that prioritise people and the environment above corporate profits.

Download the booklet from these links, or read the 12-page version on screen below this article.

The euro on a knife edge: Are the Greeks to blame? What is the left position on the euro crisis?

On October 19 and 20, 2011, Greece will be stopped by the latest in a series of general strikes against austerity. Above and below: Workers march on October 19. All photos by WFTU International.

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

October 19, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly -- “Bloody Greeks—corrupt and lazy, born cheaters who think the world owes them a living. Why should the hard-working taxpayers of the euro zone core economies like Germany have to fund billion-euro rescue packages for those scoundrels?” That’s the vicious tone of Germany’s tabloids and conservative politicians towards Greece’s galloping public debt crisis and the Greek people’s protests against the austerity programs imposed on them by the European Union, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (the “troika”) as the price of bail-out funding.

John Bellamy Foster: Understanding the capitalist economic crisis

Understanding the Capitalist Economic Crisis. Film produced by Jill Hickson and John Reynolds.

At the October 2011 Climate Change Social Change Conference held in Melbourne, John Bellamy Foster, Marxist academic, Monthly Review editor and author on economics and ecology, spoke about the causes and consequences of the deepening capitalist economic crisis.

The conference was sponsored by the Office of Environmental Programs, Melbourne University, and organised and co-sponsored by Green Left Weekly, Resistance and the Socialist Alliance. Other co-sponsors included Friends of the Earth (Melbourne), the Labor Party Pakistan and Sydney University Political Economy Society.

Why Karl Marx was right

By Lee Sustar

September 13, 2011 -- Socialist Worker (USA) -- Economist Nouriel Roubini, whose predictions of the financial crash of 2008 earned him the nickname "Dr Doom", has referred his patients to a specialist in capitalist crisis: Dr Karl Marx.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Roubini said:

Karl Marx had it right. At some point, capitalism can destroy itself. You cannot keep on shifting income from labor to capital without having an excess capacity and a lack of aggregate demand. That's what has happened. We thought that markets worked. They're not working. The individual can be rational. The firm, to survive and thrive, can push labor costs more and more down, but labor costs are someone else's income and consumption. That's why it's a self-destructive process.

For several hours on August 12, the Journal website ran the video of the interview as a top story, under the headline, "Roubini: Marx was Right".

Martin Hart-Landsberg: Troubling economic trends for US workers

inequality-2.jpg

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

September 15, 2011 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The US Census Bureau just published new data revealing trends in living standards as of 2010. The trends are troubling to say the least.

Median household income (adjusted for inflation) fell to US$49,445 (see below). That means that the median household in the United States now earns less than it did a decade ago.This marks the first decade since the Great Depression without an increase in real median income. According to Lawrence Katz, a labour expert and Harvard economist,

This is truly a lost decade.We think of America as a place where every generation is dong better, but we’re looking at a period when the median family is in worse shape than it was in the late 1990s.

John Bellamy Foster: The ecology of Marxian political economy

[This article is an extended version of a talk delivered at the Marxism 2011 Conference, University College of London, July 3, 2011. Click HERE to view a video of that talk. Readers of Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal are urged to consider subscribing to Monthly Review, where this article first appeared. John Bellamy Foster will be a featured international guest at the second World at a Crossroads: Climate Change – Social Change Conference, Friday, September 30 – Monday, October 3, 2011, Melbourne University.]

* * *

By John Bellamy Foster

Martin Hart-Landsberg: Market 'outcomes' and political power

"Now imagine if we had a state that engaged in transparent planning and was committed to using our significant public resources to reshape our economy in the public interest. ... state planning and intervention in economic activity already goes on. Unfortunately, it happens behind closed doors and for the benefit of a small minority. It doesn’t have to be that way."

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

August 25, 2011 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The US media likes to talk about markets as if they were just a force of nature. In fact, markets and their outcomes are largely shaped by political power. In a capitalist system like ours, that power is largely used to advance the interests of those who own and run our dominant corporations.

Crises real and artificial, and why a new ‘New Deal’ is not feasible

By Sam Williams

August 21, 2011 -- This article first appeared at Critique of Crisis Theory, and is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission. Thanks to Mike Treen for recommending it -- Since World War I, the maximum debt that the U.S. government could carry has been determined by law. Every so often as the maximum debt limit was approached, Congress routinely voted to raise the debt limit. But this year the Republican-controlled House balked. The Republican majority threatened to refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless the Obama administration agreed not to raise taxes on the rich and corporations or even close tax loopholes that have often enabled the rich and corporations to pay no taxes at all.

The U.S. Treasury warned that if the debt limit was not raised by August 2, it would not have enough cash on hand to pay all its bills coming due, forcing it to default. The crisis was purely a legal and political one, since the U.S. government has been having no trouble recently selling its notes and bonds. Indeed, the federal government was able to sell them at prices that yielded some of the lowest interest rates it has ever had to pay. This would hardly be the case if there was a real threat of a federal default.

Martin Hart-Landsberg: The troubled US economy means a shaky world economy

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

August 15, 2011 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Martin Hart-Landsberg's permission -- The US economy is in trouble and that means trouble for the world economy. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s Trade and Development Report, 2010, “Buoyant consumer demand in the United States was the main driver of global economic growth for many years in the run-up to the current global economic crisis.”

Before the crisis, US household consumption accounted for approximately 16 per cent of total global output, with imports comprising a significant share and playing a critical role in supporting growth in other countries. In fact, “as a result of global production sharing, United States consumer spending increas[ed] global economic activities in many indirect ways as well (e.g. business investments in countries such as Germany and Japan to produce machinery for export to China and its use there for the manufacture of exports to the United States)”.

Iceland’s loud 'No!': Can't pay, won't pay

By Silla Sigurgeirsdóttir and Robert H. Wade

August 2011 -- Le Monde Diplomatique -- The people of Iceland have now twice voted not to repay international debts incurred by banks, and bankers, for which the whole island is being held responsible. With the present turmoil in European capitals, could this be the way forward for other economies?

The small island of Iceland has lessons for the world. It held a referendum in April to decide, more or less, whether ordinary people should pay for the folly of the bankers (and by extension, could governments control the corporate sector if they depended on it for finance). Sixty per cent of the population rejected an agreement negotiated between Iceland, the Netherlands and the UK to pay back the British and Dutch governments for the money they spent to recompense savers with the failed bank Icesave. That was less resistance than the first referendum last spring, when 93% voted no.

United States: The deficit deal -- We got taken

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

August 2, 2011 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Martin Hart-Landsberg's permission -- The US Congress has finally agreed on a deficit reduction plan that President Barack Obama supports. As a result, the debt ceiling is being lifted, which means that the Treasury can once again borrow to meet its financial obligations.

Avoiding a debt default is a good thing. However, the agreement is bad and even more importantly the debate itself has reinforced understandings of the US economy that are destructive of majority interests.

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