Economics

Marxist economists analyse the crisis

Click here to download all the texts (in date order, with some typographical corrections, and including some texts not listed below) Antecedents and sequels of the crisis: discussion notes by Martin Thomas on the first two "rounds", November 2010. December 2008 onwards: second comments, and some new contributors 1. Michel Husson: The Crisis of Neo-Liberal Capitalism 2. Fred Moseley: The Bondholders and the Taxpayers 3. Leo Panitch: The Chain Broke at its Weakest Link 4. Andrew Kliman: The Level of Debt is Astronomical 5. David Laibman: The Onset of Great Depression II: Conceptualising the...

Fair trade, free trade, and socialism

Trade is a vital part of the neoliberal economic, political and ideological regime that now dominates the world economy and most national states. At various summits in recent years the world’s most powerful governments have promised to introduce a better deal on trade, aid and debt for the world’s poorest countries, especially in Africa. At the same time, there are many charities and NGOs making proposals to make trade fairer. A number of organisations came together in 2006 in the Make Poverty History coalition, call for trade justice. Others advocate buying only goods with the fairtrade mark...

The USSR's drive for crude growth

Tony Southwell (Solidarity 605) argues that industrial growth in the Stalinist economies was a matter of “conscious decision-making of the bureaucracy... choices”, and so not “organic”. But, as Marx put it, “social existence determines consciousness”. The leading bureaucrats in Stalinist states were not people dropped from the sky who might opt to plan for industrial growth, or just as well as opt to plan to wind back to subsistence agriculture plus growing a few flowers. Their consciousness was shaped and selected by “social existence” organic to the system. International pressures drove them...

Marx's Capital volume 1 - 12-session course

Marx's Capital volume 1 - 12-session course Format of each session (which we'll vary slightly from week to week): - Quick outline of the passages of Capital covered, and questions - 15 minutes - Work in "breakout rooms" on discussing selected extracts and comments - 30 minutes - Report-back on that work, and discussion - 20 minutes - Review of discussion points - 25 minutes Running from 3 October 2021 to 3 April 2022, every other Sunday at 18:30-20:00 London time, skipping 28 November and 26 December. Zoomlink: bit.ly/capi-z Eventbrite bit.ly/capi-ebrite The basic reading is Otto RĂĽhle's...

Michel Husson, 1949-2021

The death on 18 July 2021 of Michel Husson means a large loss of light and sparkle in the world of discussion and debate in Marxist economics. Unlike almost anyone else today, or maybe even in history, Husson was equally at home in abstruse "Marxist high theory" debates about value and price, in hypothesising about broad epochal shifts in capital's modes of self-regulation, and in detailed everyday statistical investigations (would a cut in the working week reduce unemployment, how much, under what conditions?) His website hussonet.free.fr made available a wealth of week-by-week Marxist...

Automation will not abolish work

Aaron Benanav’s book Automation and the Future of Work is aimed against what he calls the automation discourse. He defines this as a belief that high levels of technological unemployment will result from the introduction of new technology and that we will soon be faced with a largely automated economy. Such ideas can be found both on the left and right. Benanav rejects both their economic analysis and the political solutions such as Universal Basic Income (UBI) most commonly proposed to deal with the fallout from automation. I welcome Benanav’s riposte to the recent flurry of predictions of a...

Hedge funds drive food price rises

World prices for basic food commodities (grains, soyabeans, vegetable oils) were up 40% in May 2021 on their level in May 2020, and the trend is accelerating. The impact on food prices in shops is high at present in Nigeria and West Africa. It has been low in Britain, Europe, the USA, and China. Food prices are now moderating in India, after about 10% inflation in 2020. Shop food prices depend on processing costs as well as world basic-commodity prices, and those may filter through into shop prices only with delay. Still, the rise in the underlying index is comparable in size to the food...

Bob Sutcliffe 1939-2019

Bob Sutcliffe, a well-known Marxist economist for over fifty years, and at one time a comrade of ours in the Workers’ Socialist League of 1981-84, died on 23 December 2019, aged 80. I last talked with Bob about 10 years ago, when I was seeking interviews and discussions with Marxist economists about the 2007-8 crisis and its aftermath. Bob explained that his health was bad, and he couldn’t contribute, but he was, as ever, friendly, helping me with introductions to other economists. He was then, and had been for some years, working as a university teacher in the Basque country of Spain. When I...

Automation and the working class

According to one account in 2013, 47% of jobs in the USA risk being automated away within “a decade or two”.[1] That prospect has been interpreted as utopia or as dystopia. The near future will be one of networked individuals freed from drudgery by automation, and able easily to get what they want to consume and to undermine all hierarchies. Or: only a techno-elite will retain employment and wages. The rest of us will be reduced to a new pauper class vegetating on “universal basic income” handouts. Further research has queried the projections. Many tasks can be automated, but jobs involve more...

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