Economy

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...

For the past few years we have been carefully following the development of the US and world economies. Yet almost overnight, instead of "the boom will last forever", the press now has stories about "how to survive the recession", and openly discusses the economic slowdown. They don't even blush at the fact that mere months ago they were encouraging everyone to get into the stock market or miss out on fabulous wealth and early retirement! We explained long ago that the so-called "New Economic Paradigm" was nothing new at all - that it was an investment boom propelled by the super-exploitation of the working class and ex-colonial...

The euro's launch has been greeted with a well-orchestrated campaign of official enthusiasm, designed to silence all doubts on the question. The Euro has finally been introduced as a common currency in 12 of the EU states. This is an important development. A common currency is the first condition towards European integration. It ought to boost internal trade and thus act as a powerful stimulus to the development of the productive forces. But is this going to happen?

Michael Roberts looks back at the year 2000, the year when the US hi-tech stock market bubble burst, and views the economic prospects for the coming year.

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. 

On September 28, 2000 a majority of the Danish voters said no to the Euro - 53.1% voted No and 46.9% voted Yes. This was a surprisingly high No-vote, since almost all the different opinion polls and "experts" etc., had been predicting a very close, almost fifty-fifty situation. The participation in the referendum was very high - about 88%, which is the highest percentage in a Danish EU-referendum since the first one in 1972 where 90.4% voted.

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...

At the end of September 2000, tens of thousands have been trying to protest at the annual meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Prague. They are right to protest. But what are they protesting about? The World Bank, IMF and the World Trade Organisation - that was stopped in its tracks in Seattle last December - are the three pillars of the global capitalist economic order. They argue that problems like world poverty, the destruction of the environment and poisoning of our food "just happen." Actually these things are imposed by the giant multinationals that control the world's economic resources. And these three institutions are their enforcers.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.