The complacent optimism of capitalist consensus is fast disappearing. At the beginning of this year, the general view about the world economy was that US growth would slow gradually to about 3% from 5%, Japan would pick up a little to about 2% and Europe would trundle along at about 2.5%. The US central bank, the Federal Reserve, would cut interest rates to ensure that any slowdown would not mean a loss of investor confidence or consumer demand. Well, January seems like eons ago in global economics. After a non-stop spate of warnings about lower profits from the main US corporations and the release of economic data each day that showed a weakening economy, US stock prices have plummeted. Michale Roberts analyses how all this is affected by the growing problem of deflation in Japan.
The world’s stock markets took a big hit in the first quarter of 2001. The US markets were down at least 10%, as was the UK’s FTSE index. The world index of all stock markets measured in dollars was down 14%. The technology sectors were hit even more. The US hi-tech index, the NASDAQ, fell 26% in the first three months of this year and the UK’s Techmark index did nearly as badly. Michael Roberts looks at the relationship between the stock exchange and the business cycle and the likely effects of this collapse on the real economy.
The last time Michael Roberts commented on the state of the US and world economy was in May. The piece was called: "The worst is yet to come". Now things are getting worse for world capitalism. The US economy is in "recession" and there is little doubt that the third quarter figures will confirm the end of the long boom. Michael Roberts updates our analysis of the present economic situation.
Our economics correspondent, Michael Roberts, looks at the different attittude of working people and capitalists when faced with tragedy and explains how the terrorist attacks on September 11 are likely to be the tipping point which will plunge the world economy into recession.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the body representing the world's richest 30 countries, has predicted that this year economic growth would be as low as 1% and would be only 1.2% next year. At the same time, capitalist economists forecast that global economic growth this year and next would be the worst for 30 years. The great economic recession of the early 21st century is under way.
The ripple effect of the terrorist attacks has spread far and wide. It was clear from the beginning that the airline and insurance industries, as well as the stock market in general (except for the armaments industry!) would suffer. But there have been other consequences that no one could have predicted.
The World Trade Organisation has recently held its summit. Their aim was to skulk in Qatar in the Gulf of Arabia, as far as they could get from the 'teamsters to turtles' coalition against all that is wrong about capitalism. An important part of their agenda has been the General Agreement on Trade in Services - GATS, due to come into by the end of 2002. But what is GATS and why do we need to fight it?
British capitalism is ill equipped to escape the huge downturn in world capitalist economic activity. The world is not going to recover quickly from the economic recession of 2001. Gordon Brown's proclamation of the end of "boom and bust" will be exposed for what it is.
Michael Roberts, our economics correspondent looks at the prospects for the world economy in the year 2002. Barely a year ago, the world's leading economic and financial organisations and most economists predicted that the U.S. economy would grow by 3.5% in 2001 and by a similar rate in 2002. Considering that new data show an economy that is rapidly deteriorating right across the board, a final outcome of less than zero growth until year-end 2001 presently seems the best bet. The question now is not whether the world is in recession but how long it will last and how deep it will be. And yet optimism reigns in the stock markets as we start the New Year. This is the optimism of fools.
The overriding economic factor for the first half of this decade will be deflation i.e. an economy where prices are falling. Deflation is going to affect every area of the world capitalist economy, particularly profitable investments.
The ignominious collapse of Houston, Texas-based Enron is a powerful reminder of how "business as usual" is conducted in the epoch of capitalist decay and imperialism. This formidable downfall has had far-reaching effects, and there are many lessons that the working class can learn from it. By John Peterson, editor, Socialist Appeal(USA).
The collapse of Enron is the biggest crash in corporate history. In a matter of months the total share "value" of energy firm Enron, the seventh biggest company in America, went from $80 billion to next to nothing. Mick Brooks takes a look at Enron's so-called energy trading.