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Who will pay the cost of Europe’s defaults?

23rd May 2011 Socialist Action 0

By Nicky Dempsey

Open disagreements have broken out between the EU Commission and the European Central Bank on the issue of whether Greek government debt should be ‘restructured’  or ‘reprofiled’ in some way.  Debt restructuring would require that the bondholders, mainly European (including British) banks, take some losses on their bonds by having their value written down. ‘Reprofiling’ is a much more modest proposal which may involve little more than extending the life of the bonds, so that interest and capital repayments are drawn out over time.

Marxism and the Economic Crisis

27th April 2011 Socialist Action 0

By Nicky Dempsey

All societies based on social classes tend to produce surplus value, to a greater or less extent. The character of the society may be determined by which class receives the bulk of the surplus.

The economic and financial crisis that became apparent in 2007 and 2008 was located primarily in the imperialist centres, led by the United States. The crisis was engendered by a crisis of profitability, a reduction in the surplus available to the capitalist class. Economic policy since that time has been designed to restore as far as possible the greater proportion of that surplus to the capitalist class in the imperial centres.

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A serious work of Marxist economics – meeting on 11 July

9th July 2007 Socialist Action 0

First published: 9 July 2007

On 11 July there will be an opportunity to attend a meeting on a book summarising very serious work in Marxist economics – Andrew Kliman’s Reclaiming Marx’s Capital. The notice for the meeting is appended below, for those who wish to skip to it. But to understand its importance it is worth making some observations on the developments which led to it.

It is a truism of Marxism that theory has a relative autonomy from the direct development of the class struggle. Both parts of that phrase, the autonomy and that it is relative and not absolute, are important.

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Capitalism and the rise of world poverty

1st November 1998 Socialist Action 0

First published: October/November 1998

It is appropriate in the year of the 150th anniversary of the Communist Manifesto to draw up the economic balance sheet of capitalism in the twentieth century. In addition to the destruction of two World Wars and numerous regional wars, the record is that economic development of a small core of imperialist states occurred at the expense of the populations of the majority of market economies falling further and further behind. The only large economies to close the gap with the major imperialist states are those where capitalism was overthrown. Where capitalism was restored that progress was reversed. With capitalism entering a new period of global turmoil, translating into impoverishment, starvation and untold misery for hundreds of millions of people, Marx and Engels’ view that the working class is the only social force which can take humanity as a whole forward retains all of its force today.

Since the mid-1970s, inequality has risen to the highest levels in history. Impoverishment, starvation, avoidable disease and death have devastated whole continents and destroyed the lives of millions of people.

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Capital’s global crisis

1st October 1998 Socialist Action 0

First published: October 1998

The post-1989 triumphalism of the international imperialist system suffered two shuddering blows at the end of August. First, on the economic plane, it became clear that all of the efforts to contain the 1929-scale slump which has afflicted east Asia since last summer have failed – its fall-out is progressively extending its effects to the entire world economy. Second, the chain of the international capitalist economy broke at its weakest link – Russia – and this posed the most serious political challenge to imperialism since 1989, namely, the realistic possibility that the capitalist course imposed on that country since the end of 1991 might be over-turned. The shudder of doubt which passed through the world of capital manifested itself in stock market prices, innumerable articles on the ‘backlash against the free market’, through to the farcical powerlessness of the Clinton/Yeltsin summit.

The driving force of this crisis was the realisation that the east Asian economic crisis had not been confined to that region. But its political punch was delivered by the palpable risk that capitalism could yet be overturned in a country, Russia, whose nuclear weapons rule out the direct Western military intervention which would otherwise be used in such circumstances. The latter political reality was reinforced by the inevitability of rising social and political opposition to imperialism’s prescriptions for east Asia.

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Behind the world financial crisis

1st March 1998 Socialist Action 0

First published: February/March 1998

The financial crises which began in east Asia and Japan in the latter half of 1997 hit what had been the most dynamic part of the world economy – cross-Pacific trade overtook trans-Atlantic trade a decade ago. Together with the gyrations they produced on world financial markets, these events showed that the world capitalist economy is nowhere near the new ‘golden age’ of prolonged economic growth predicted by some bourgeois economists in the United States. On the contrary, the chain of economic events which started in October 1997, with the greatest stock market crash since 1929, is continuing to work its way through the international capitalist economy. The crash of 1987 was followed by the 1990 collapse of the Japanese stock market, the crash of world bond markets in 1994, the Mexican crash in the same year, prolonged stagnation in the early 1990s in Japan and most of the European Union and, now, the crises of the Asian ‘tigers’, recession in Japan and consequent turbulence on world stock markets, with severe knock-on effects in Latin America, eastern Europe and Russia.