Economic crisis

Global recovery fades

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The world suffered the economic equivalent of a heart attack in 2008-9, triggered by the collapse of the Wall Street bank Lehman Brothers. The current condition of the global economy isn't as acute. But a raft of bad economic data over the last couple of months point to a patient whose breathing is starting to become much more irregular.

Across the core of the capitalist system, economies are either slowing, stagnating or contracting. In the United States, the rebound from the crisis was already the weakest on record, hovering at around two percent annual growth. But this has weakened further, slipping to 1.7 percent in the latest set of GDP figures. This is despite four years of $1 trillion plus government deficits and huge injections of cash into the economy by the Federal Reserve, the central bank, on top of that. And it could get worse.

A new phase in the crisis

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The crisis in Europe has entered a new phase. 2008 saw the onset of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. In 2010, and especially from 2011, there was a marked upswing in resistance, with a series of mass strikes in Greece, Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium and Britain, and the rise of the indignados in Portugal, Spain and Greece last spring and then the Occupy movement in the autumn.

Now the mood of bitterness and revolt against austerity has received a powerful electoral expression which will have major ideological, political and economic reverberations across the continent.

Can Marxism explain the crisis?

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Recent panic in the stock markets has led some commentators to ask whether Karl Marx might have been right after all. Bill Dunn explains some of the core ideas at the heart of Marx's understanding of capitalism and shows how they can be used to explain the system's current crisis

Worries that banks might not get the returns they expected from lending to Greece and other states have provoked a fresh round of stock market panic. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has downgraded its global growth forecast for 2012 to 4 percent. By coincidence, this is exactly the same figure that in October 2008 it predicted for 2009. It had no idea, even after it had begun, that we were in for a spectacular contraction.

Follow Iceland

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Voters in Iceland have for a second time rejected the opportunity to help bailout the governments of Britain and the Netherlands.

When Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008, the black hole created in the global economy threatened to swallow Iceland, then described by the Financial Times as "a reasonably large banking system with a small country attached".

Icesave, the internet bank set up by Landsbanki, Iceland's privatised national bank, immediately collapsed. After weeks of protests at the parliament building in Reykjavik the government fell in January 2009.

Tories declare war

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The Con-Dem coalition has launched an all-out assault on the public sector and the welfare state in the name of reducing the budget deficit. What will be the impact of these austerity measures? Judith Orr looks at the risk of a double dip recession - and the possibilities of resistance.

It started with the banks going bust and ended up with closing playgrounds. Or as Tory education secretary Michael Gove put it, "Play has to make its contribution to tackling the deficit." Today the economic crisis is being played out in the lives and meagre budgets of millions of ordinary people in Britain as the sheer scale of attacks planned by the government starts to become concrete.

The crisis: over or just beginning?

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The post-election period will be dominated by the dire state of the British economy. While the political elite are desperate to make us pay for the crisis, they are also paralysed by the fear of a renewed recession precipitated by speculation against the pound. Joseph Choonara reports

The state of the economy will continue to mould British politics after the election. Economics will constrain the room for manoeuvre of the political elite, pressing them to drive through a series of attacks. It will also create the terrain on which workers will have to organise and resist. The prospects for the system are, then, of keen interest to those who wish to challenge it. After almost three years of chaos, what lies in store?

Stoking the bonfire of illusions

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In August 2008 Russia went to war with its neighbour, Georgia. One month later Lehman Brothers bank went bust, plunging capitalism into crisis. In reviewing Alex Callinicos's new book, Jane Hardy explores how these apparently unrelated events signalled epochal changes in the global economy

Two recent events, unequal in magnitude, represent epochal changes to the global economy. The first was the brief war between Georgia and Russia in early August 2008. This was followed by the second: the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September of the same year, which precipitated the biggest financial crash since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Greece, Ireland and the eurozone crisis

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Pigs. It's not an insult as such, but that depends on what it's referring to.

In this case it's an acronym coined by "economic analysts" to describe the European countries that have been hardest hit by the recession: Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain.

Now, I happen to be Irish, but I'm not particularly nationally-minded, so on one level it doesn't bother me all that much. However, when you consider who these "economic analysts" are, and what their role has been in the crisis affecting Greece, it's a different story.

The divisive crisis

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Britain is likely to see some weak and fragile economic recovery in early 2010, but the crisis will continue to shape politics in the months ahead.

Recent data shows that 2009 saw the biggest contraction in the British economy in a single year since 1921.

The world economy is not in permanent slump. The major G20 economies, with the exception of Britain, moved out of recession by the third quarter of last year and China grew impressively in 2009. But the measures taken to escape from recession will shape what happens next.

Structural problems of capitalism

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Economist and author Graham Turner talked to Socialist Review about his new book No Way to Run the Economy, why he believes Keynes is misunderstood and what he has learned from Marxist economics.

You studied mainstream economics, which is often made out to be "ideology-free" and treated like a branch of mathematics. Yet your new book, No Way to Run an Economy, discusses figures such as John Maynard Keynes and Karl Marx. How did you end up there?

I did a degree at City University in London which was heavily steeped in monetarism. Then I went on to do a postgraduate degree that was far more pragmatic and non-ideological at the University of Toronto. I came back from Canada to get my first job in the City and worked in London for Japanese banks throughout the 1990s.

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