Economy

Business news headlines recently bemoaned the incidence of “bond yield inversions” in a series of countries as the supposed harbinger of doom and destruction. Many working-class people were left scratching their heads about what on earth this all means. 10 years after the “Great Recession”, many could be forgiven for thinking that we have been living in permanent recession and things can’t get any worse. The reality is that, while things have not been good in most countries, things can also get far, far, worse. In this article, we will explain why.

Stock markets have experienced a roller-coaster ride over the past two months, as Trump’s erratic trade policy has brought the world economy to the brink of recession. In the latest move, Trump yet again partially postponed the introduction of new tariffs, which he announced two weeks ago. This temporary reprieve will do little to solve the conflict.

At the recent meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, the rich and powerful gathered to discuss a strategy for the defence of their system. In the past, the mood of this gathering has been one of confidence and determination. This year, however, it reeked of desperation. The ruling class has gone from victory celebrations to staring into the abyss within the space of just 25 years.

As we step into a new year, the world is facing a decisive turning point. The crisis of capitalism is reaching a new level – one that threatens to overthrow the entire existing world order that was painfully put together after the Second World War. 10 years after the financial collapse of 2008, the bourgeoisie is nowhere near solving the economic crisis. 

Rob Sewell, editor of Socialist Appeal(British paper of the IMT) spoke at the Revolution Festival in London about the 2008 financial crisis, 10 years after the fact. He explains that we are living through perhaps the greatest ever organic crisis of capitalism, from which there has been no meaningful recovery; and that all attempts to deal with the fallout of 2008 (from quantitative easing to austerity) have now disrupted the social and political situation.

Upwards of a trillion-and-a-half Danish kroner in “dirty money” (an amount that corresponds to about 60 percent of the Danish GDP) appears to have passed through the Danish financial giant Danske Bank. This case is just one in a long series of scandals, which show that the bourgeois rule of law is an illusion.

The headline announcement from the latest UK budget was that “the era of austerity is finally coming to an end”. This assurance, coming from a Conservative chancellor, is an indication of just how far the mood in society has shifted. After eight years of cuts borne by the working class, the vulnerable, and the poor, it is clear that ordinary people are no longer willing to tolerate any more hollow rhetoric that “we’re all in this together”.

According to the British chancellor, Philip Hammond, austerity is apparently over. But for the super-rich it looks like it never even began! The latest figures reveal that the international billionaire class made more money in 2017 than in any year in recorded history.

26 years ago, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the defenders of capitalism were euphoric. They spoke of the death of socialism and communism. Liberalism had triumphed and therefore history had reached its final expression in the form of capitalism. That was the moment when Yoshihiro Francis Fukuyama uttered his famous (or notorious) prediction that history had ended. What he meant by this was as follows: now that socialism (in the form of the Soviet Union) had failed, the only possible socio-economic system was capitalism, or as he and others preferred to describe it: “the free market economy”.

Two weeks ago, Trump announced tariffs on another $200bn worth of imports from China. The announcement was met with protests from the Chinese, as well as big business in the US. China responded with tariffs on another $60bn of imports from the US. This trade war reveals the frictions that have been developing for some time between the imperialist powers, and threatens to plunge the world into a new recession.

In Britain, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell have made a number of bold and much-welcomed pledges in order to fix the "broken economy". But what kind of economic programme should a Labour government carry out?

While all eyes are on the unfolding trade war between China and the United States, another crisis in the world economy is threatening to spin out of control. Since April, Argentina and Turkey have seen their currencies collapse and inflation spiral. Other so-called emerging economies such as Indonesia, India, Brazil and South Africa are also coming under similar pressures.

10 years ago, on 15 September 2008, Lehman Brothers – one of the largest and oldest investment banks in the world – filed for bankruptcy after being engulfed by the subprime mortgage scandal.

In the years following the global financial crisis of 2008, the world has seen the most widespread questioning and rejection of the capitalist system since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The intractable crisis of the world economy is making itself felt in all spheres of life, causing immense instability in politics and world relations.

Expectations for the G7 were not high, but the outcome was even worse than expected. For the first time ever, the G7 ended without a joint statement, and with Trump lashing out at Canada and the EU. The summit in North Korea, on the other hand, ended with all smiles and a joint statement promising peace, denuclearisation and security.

On Thursday the deadline passed for an agreement between Trump and Canada, Japan, Mexico and the EU on trade. Failure to reach an agreement meant that the steel and aluminium tariffs threatened by Trump came into force. With this, Trump has begun the process of unravelling globalisation. On Saturday, the G-7 finance ministers met and the 6 non-US ministers came together against the US, expressing their “unanimous concern and disappointment” over the US decision.

Since the beginning of 2018, the Argentinian peso has fallen 30 percent against the dollar, reaching 25 pesos per dollar. The severity of the crisis has forced the government to raise interest rates to 40 percent. Seeing that this didn’t help, the government has taken steps to ask the IMF for a multi-billion-dollar loan to prop up the faltering economy. Seemingly coming like lightning from a clear blue sky, what this pending disaster really reveals is the fragile state of the Argentinian and world economy.

The Conservative government in Britain is facing a perfect storm of crises. Brexit looms large over every decision and event. The question of the Irish border and the customs union has intensified the civil war inside the Tory Party. And without a majority to command in Parliament, the Prime Minister is paralysed, unable to pass any meaningful legislation.

The serious representatives of capitalism are petrified that the ongoing trade dispute between China and America could erupt into a full-blown economic war. In a recent editorial for the Financial Times, associate editor Martin Wolf described US President Donald Trump’s latest plan to reduce the $337bn US-China trade imbalance by imposing $200bn worth of tariffs on Chinese goods (over two years) as a “crazy” act of “fiscal irresponsibility”. But there is method in Trump’s madness. He is predictably applying his particular art of negotiation: threaten, bully and bluster – then strike a deal. However,

...

“The Governor of the Bank of England has warned that massive job losses driven by technology could resuscitate Marxism in the West,” announced the Daily Telegraphrecently.

After placing hefty tariffs on solar panels, washing machines, steel and aluminium, Trump is now picking a fight with China. His latest proposals target $60bn worth of Chinese exports, and threaten a trade war between two of the largest economies in the world.

In the last week, US President, Donald Trump announced his intention to raise tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, threatening to start a dangerous trade war with the rest of the world. This could plunge the world economy into another deep slump.

The last two months have seen renewed worries about the economy. It was meant to be a period of optimism, with plenty of positive figures on unemployment, wage growth and so on. Yet in spite of the figures, the markets are jittery and the bourgeois is gradually realising that none of the problems that caused the crisis in 2008 have been resolved. If anything, they have become even worse.

A pesar de toda la euforia del último periodo acerca de la recuperación de la economía mundial y el crecimiento bursátil, los acontecimientos han dado un brusco giro a peor. La semana pasada, las bolsas de todo el mundo se derrumbaron.

Despite all the euphoria in the past period about the world recovery and booming stock markets, events have taken a sharp turn for the worse. Over the past week, stock markets around the world have plunged.

Earlier this month, Oxfam published the latest statistics on wealth inequality. They reveal that the slogan of “we are the 99 percent” really is true. The richest 1 percent globally own more than the rest of us put together. 42 billionaires own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who form the poorest half of the world's population.

This article, written for Socialist Appeal, was published a matter of days before Bitcoin's value collapsed by half overnight. This catastrophic downturn proves everything we have written about Bitcoin and how it reflects of the general crisis of capitalism.

The news of heavy fraud and corruption in two of South Africa’s biggest monopolies has thrown the big capitalists into turmoil. The scandals, which broke out almost simultaneously, involve two global behemoths, Naspers and Steinhof, and implicate some of the very biggest tycoons in the country, such as Christo Wiese, Markus Jooste and Koos Bekker.

British capitalism is clearly in a parlous state. The miserable spurt of growth of a few years ago has completely run out of steam, leaving the UK in a disastrous position. All the economic forecasts from the top institutions for the coming period have been downgraded from those of a year ago.

The lack of any major announcements in this year’s budget, delivered on 22 November by the chancellor, Philip Hammond, reflects the insoluble web of contradictions that now entangles the Tory government.

Rob Sewell looks at the damning condemnations against the capitalist system being uttered by none other than the capitalists themselves. By examining the ominous warnings of the Financial Times - a key bourgeois mouthpiece - Rob explains that even the capitalists see the writing on the wall...

Just when Theresa May and the Tories would have been hoping for some respite after a dismal conference period, the OBR (Office for Budget Responsibility) has sent a shockwave through British political and business circles. In its annual “Forecast Evaluation Report” (FER), published this month, the OBR downgraded the UK’s economic outlook, having revealed that both GDP and productivity growth had consistently fallen short of OBR predictions over the last two years.

A recent study on tax evasion and inequality carried out by a group of Scandinavian economic researchers reveals just how big a part of the upper 0.01%’s fortunes is hidden in foreign bank accounts. On this basis, the study finds that inequality is probably far higher than originally assumed. This clearly shows how the capitalist system has reached a dead end. These contradictions can only be solved through socialist revolution.

 "Today, in numerous areas, from automation to green energy to information technology, we are seeing a validation of Marx's assertion: that society's productive forces at a certain stage come into conflict with the way in which society is organised. These "economic singularities", as Adam Booth discusses, demonstrate clearly that the system has broken."

 

Universal basic income (or UBI), an unconditional payment to all citizens, has become part of the economic zeitgeist in recent times, embraced by advocates on both the Left and the Right as a solution to the symptoms and sores of the crisis-ridden capitalist system.

It is said that a man standing on the edge of cliff does not reason. Today’s global economy is full of cliffs, one of the steepest being the Silicon Valley tech sector, and the men peering over it can be heard chattering nervously about . . . an impending stampede of unicorns. Those uninitiated in the Orwellian parlance of Silicon Valley and its venture capitalist circles could easily mistake such talk for the absurd ravings of a lunatic. But this term has come to describe the primary danger threatening to devastate the tech sector in a cataclysmic repetition of the 1999 dot-com bubble.

The following draft document was discussed at the World Congress of the International Marxist Tendency in July 2016. The main aim of the document is to define the main economic, social and political trends in the world today and to develop a perspective for the class struggle in the next period. The document was originally drafted in October 2015. [You can read the final version of the document, which was passed at the congress here as

...

The latest in a series of annual reports from Oxfam, detailing the level of economic inequality in our world, is a striking example of Marx’s prediction that capitalism concentrates wealth in fewer and fewer hands. 

Global markets gave fallen 7.1% since January 1st, their worst start since 1970. George Soros, the renowned business magnate, says the situation developing in China reminds him of the period prior to the banking crisis of 2008. Former US treasury secretary Larry Summers has said, “The global risk to domestic performance in the US, Europe and many emerging markets is as great as any time I can remember.”

The arrival of the smart-phone application Uber has thrown the taxi industry into a state of disarray. First launched in June 2009 in San Francisco, the application has spread rapidly and today finds itself in over 300 cities in approximately 58 countries. While it offers many advantages over traditional taxis, including lower rates, it is having serious effects on the living conditions of taxi drivers. 

The International Monetary Fund has been forced, not only to repeatedly downgrade its growth forecasts, but to now predict a fall in World GDP in dollar terms, the first since 2009. This is a reflection of the crisis-ridden world we are in.

In this longer article, Adam Booth examines the rise of the sharing economy, which has featured heavily in the media because of firms like AirBnB and Uber. These new models are presented as offering a revolutionary new dynamic phase in the life of capitalism. But the reality under capitalism is far from this utopian promise.

The world economy teeters on the brink and the global capitalist system has entered its deepest crisis since the 1930s. Governments around the world are scrambling to stabilize the economy, but by doing so they are disrupting the already fragile social and political equilibrium.

World stock markets have been in meltdown from Shanghai and Shenzhen to London and New York. A sea of red blighted the computer screens of the stock exchanges everywhere in a panic global sell-off. Shock and disbelief among investors was ubiquitous. Even as the Dow Jones claws its way back from its worst losses, extreme volatility pervades the entire system. Could this crash be a one-off event, which will quickly return to normal, or the beginning of a series of shocks in an unstoppable chain of events?

As Adam Booth explains in this article, serious bourgeois economists can see a new world economic slump coming, which they have no way of averting, having already used all the traditional measures they would have adopted in the past, lowering interest rates, credit, etc. In these conditions any important event, such as a Greek default or a dramatic turn of events in the Middle East, can trigger an unravelling of all the pent up contradictions.

Once more, the world economy is dangling on the edge of a precipice. The crisis in Greece has again hit the headlines and threatens to drag Europe down with it. The days when capitalism could simply sail by without a care in the world have gone forever. As in the interwar period, the crisis of capitalism remains deep-seated and protracted.

“Capitalist production constantly strives to overcome these immanent barriers [to its further development], but it overcomes them only by means that set up barriers afresh and on a more powerful scale. The true barrier to capitalist production is capital itself.” - Karl Marx

“Where were the Marxists in 2008, when the demise of Lehman Brothers almost brought about the collapse of capitalism?” asks a puzzled Ralph Atkins, the capital markets editor of the Financial Times. Well, unlike Mr. Atkins and his coterie of free-marketeers, we were not in a state of total bewilderment. We had predicted such an eventuality. As capitalism plunged into a deep slump, we were explaining to an ever-widening audience that the crisis, which bourgeois economists denied could ever happen, was a stunning confirmation of the correctness of Marx’s ideas. These ideas, which had been repeatedly declared out-of-date by capitalist apologists, were shown to be shockingly relevant, in

...

In 2015, the rich are still getting richer and the poor are still getting poorer. This is the conclusion of a new report on inequality produced by Oxfam and based on data compiled by Credit Suisse. The report confirms that the richest 1% of the world’s population now collectively own 48% of all the wealth of the planet. By 2016, based on current trends, they will have over half - that is, more than the other 99% of us have put together.

Join us!

Help build the forces of Marxism worldwide!

Join the IMT!