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Martin Hart-Landsberg

China's slowdown foreshadows global slowdown

shrinking chinese economy

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%.

Martin Hart-Landsberg: Lessons from a defeat in Europe

For more analysis and discussion on Greece's struggle against austerity, click HERE

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

July 13, 2015 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Troika are celebrating the end of negotiations with Greece, proclaiming that thanks to their tireless efforts the Eurozone remains whole. And why wouldn’t they celebrate. They have demonstrated their power to crush, at least for now, the Greek effort to end austerity and its associated devastating social consequences. Tragically, SYRIZA has not only surrendered, the nature of its defeat is likely to leave the country worse off, at least both economically and very likely politically as well.

China, Apple and the labour process

Demonstrators outside an Apple store in Hong Kong protest about the poor working conditions of employees of Taiwan's Foxconn which manufactures Apple products in China.

[More articles by Martin Hart-Landsberg; more on China]

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

July 19, 2012 -- Reports From the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Contemporary capitalism, driven by the competitive pursuit of private profit, tends to produce a stream of innovative goods and services. Of course this drive for private profit generally ensures that these goods and services will be the ones that are most likely to satisfy the desires of those with the greatest purchasing power. Less appreciated is the fact that this pursuit of private profit also tends to promote production processes that are based on exploitative work conditions. A case in point: Apple products.

China: 'A sixteen-point proposal on China's reform'

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

March 2, 2012 -- Reports from the Economic Front -- China is widely celebrated as an economic success story. And it is as far as GDP, investment and export growth is concerned. However, as we know well from our experience in the United States, such economic indicators often reveal little about the reality of people’s lives. In China workers are subject to intense working conditions with a disproportionate share of the benefits of production going to a top few. For example, as Bloomberg News notes:

The richest 70 members of China’s legislature added more to their wealth last year than the combined net worth of all 535 members of the U.S. Congress, the president and his Cabinet, and the nine Supreme Court justices.

Martin Hart-Landsberg: Globalisation, capitalism and China

Workers at the Foxconn (the Taiwanese multinational corporation owned) factory located in China in which many Apple products are assembled.

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

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

January 24, 2012 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- A January 22, 2012 New York Times story, "The iEconomy: How US Lost Out on iPhone Work", has been getting a lot of coverage. The article makes clear that Apple and other major multinational corporations have moved production to China not only to take advantage of low wages but also to exploit a labour environment that gives maximum flexibility.

The following quote gives a flavour for what attracts Apple to China:

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%.

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.

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.

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)”.

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.

United States: Happy anniversary, the 'economic recovery' turns two

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

July 7, 2011 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- The charts above deserve a long careful look. According to the US National Bureau of Economic Research, the Great Recession ended in the United States in June 2009. Not many working people are celebrating the expansion’s second anniversary.

As Paul Wiseman, an Associated Press economics writer, notes:  

[This economic] recovery has been the weakest and most lopsided of any since the 1930s. After previous recessions, people in all income groups tended to benefit. This time, ordinary Americans are struggling with job insecurity, too much debt and pay raises that haven’t kept up with prices at the grocery store and gas station. The economy’s meager gains are going mostly to the wealthiest.

Martin Hart-Landsberg: China and the jobs issue

"Approximately 90 per cent of China’s high technology exports to the US are produced by multinational corporations and many of them are being bought and sold in the US by other multinational retailers."

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

January 21, 2011 -- Reports from the Economic Front -- The president of China, Hu Jintao, just completed a visit to the United States and, not surprisingly, many people used the occasion to raise the jobs issue. The US economy continues to suffer from high unemployment. And the US continues to run an enormous trade deficit with China, a deficit that dwarfs any other bilateral deficit. The connection made is as follows: China is an unfair trader. Its state policies, including subsidies and labour repression, are a major reason for the destruction of the US manufacturing sector and jobs.

This nation-state framing encourages us to see US workers in direct competition with Chinese workers, with their gains largely coming at our expense. It also tends to promote a simple response: force China to quicken its embrace of market forces so that its economy will become more like ours. Unfortunately, this framing misleads more than it helps to clarify current economic dynamics. It also leads to a counterproductive response.

Martin Hart-Landsberg: What’s happening on the Korean Peninsula?

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

December 31, 2010 -- Reports from the Economic Front -- What’s happening on the Korean peninsula? If you read the press or listen to the talking heads, your best guess would be that an insane North Korean regime is willing to risk war to manage its own internal political tensions. This conclusion would be hard to avoid because the media rarely provide any historical context or alternative explanations for North Korean actions.

For example, much has been said about the March 2010 (alleged) North Korean torpedo attack on the Cheonan (a South Korean naval vessel) near Baengnyeong Island, and the November 2010 North Korean artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island (which houses a South Korean military base).

The conventional wisdom is that both attacks were motivated by North Korean elite efforts to smooth the leadership transition underway in their country. The take away: North Korea is an out-of-control country, definitely not to be trusted or engaged in negotiations.

But is that an adequate explanation for these events? Before examining the facts surrounding them, let’s introduce a bit of history. Take a look at the map below, which includes both Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong Islands.

China, capitalist accumulation and the world crisis

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

[A version of this article appeared in the South Korean journal, Marxism 21. It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Martin Hart-Landsberg’s permission.]

February 2010 -- The consensus among economists is that China’s post-1978 market reform policies have produced one of the world’s greatest economic success stories. Some believe that China is now capable of serving as an anchor for a new (non-US dominated) global economy. A few claim that the reform experience demonstrates the workability (and desirability) of market socialism. This paper is critical of these views.

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