"Asia's astonishing bounce-back" - this is the kind of headline that has started to appear in recent months. Having apparently shrugged off the effects of the stock markets crash in 1997, they are now anxiously looking for signs of revival in Asia and Europe as proof that the world has avoided recession. Once more the advocates of the so-called New Economic Paradigm proclaim the triumph of the free market. However, such triumphalism lacks any semblance of a scientific basis. The serious representatives of capital look with growing concern at the prospects for the world economy.
It is only a matter of time before the US internet bubble is burst, investments collapse and consumption of the masses falls back because of a loss of confidence in the 'new economy'. The internet revolution is a great technical leap forward. But under capitalism, it is being exploited by more and more precious investment capital being thrown into this tiny sector of the economy at the expense of all the rest.
In this 10,000 word article Mick Brooks analyses in detail all the claims of the proponents of the "new economic paradigm" from a Marxist point of view and proves why this, far from being a 'new economy' in which the business cycle has been abolished, is something we have seen many times before in the history of capitalism.
On March 24th, after an accumulated fall of the Cyprus Stock Exchange of nearly 50% over a period of five months, angry investors decided to march on the Stock Exchange to try and force the prices up! Millions of working class families are investing their savings on the stock exchange in the belief that it can only go upwards. This article gives a glimpse of the social and political effects of a collapse in the stock exchange.
In the last few weeks there has been a huge crash in the stock prices of the new information technology companies. Until then, the great new economy of computers, mobile phones, digital TV and, above all, the internet has been greeted by capitalist investors around the world as an unstoppable avenue to untold wealth. Every day we have been told in the newspapers of yet another 20-something internet entrepreneur, who becomes a multi-millionaire overnight, thanks to a launch on the stock market.
Boo.com is the first biggish internet start-up to collapse losing its investors over £80m. Michael Roberts looks at the bursting internet stocks bubble and predicts that "profitless prosperity will turn into deflating depression.
A decade ago in the heady days of 'capitalism's final triumph', when the New World Order was announced and the End of History proclaimed, the century old industry of writing learned tomes under which to bury the ideas of Marxism appeared to have become redundant. Yet before one could finish reading a single volume of these confused scribblings, the New World Order choked beneath the ashes of war in the Balkans; the south east Asian economies collapsed; leaving the New Paradigm hanging by the single thread of the innovations associated with new technology.
Amid the protests taking place in Prague against the International Monetary Fund, pollsters everywhere are detecting a growing anti-corporate mood throughout the major capitalist countries. After years of privatisation, stock market euphoria and propaganda about the wonders of the capitalist market, the pendulum is certainly swinging in the opposite direction.
In the last month or so, the world's stock markets have taken a huge tumble, down about 20% on average. Of course, prices of shares in most markets are still way above where they were five years ago and even still above levels of 18 months ago. After the excitement of the US stock market index, the Dow, going over 10,000, it seemed there was no stopping the boom. The Dow hit 11,500 and the NASDAQ index, which combines the prices of all the new high-technology and Internet company shares (like Yahoo, Cisco, Microsoft and Amazon), rose to an amazing 4,500 from just 1,000 only two years ago. There was even talk of the Dow going to 36,000 within a few years! But the trend now is clearly downwards. The Dow has fallen back to just above 10,000 as I write and the NASDAQ is back to 3,000. The casino capitalism of the stock market is in what they call a bear market."
The capitalist system moves in a never-ending cycle of booms and slumps. That has been the case for the last two hundred years. The cycle of booms and slumps, however, does not have a fixed and regular character. To begin with, the length of the cycle has always been somewhat flexible. In Marx's day it was an average of 10 years, but in the years of upswing after the second world war it was considerably less, something like 5-6 years, or even less. The exact length of the cycle is therefore not a principled question for Marxists. What is necessary is to analyse concretely the nature of the cycle, and try to establish how it will most likely evolve. The prolongation of the boom undoubtedly has an effect on the whole rhythm of the perspectives. Twelve months ago it seemed to us that following the crisis in Asia and Russia we would move fairly quickly in the direction of recession. We never put a date on it, however it is true to say that we did not think that the boom would continue for as long as it has done.