Economics

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?

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.

Economic growth - the meaning of numbers

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Economic "reforms" for increased growth are often justified by the ruling class as being good for everyone. But what is the truth behind the statistics?

Adair Turner, head of the Financial Services Authority, hit the headlines when he called for control on financial transactions through a tax. Not so widely noticed was his comment that much of what finance does is "socially useless".

Whatever happened to the 'Great Recession'?

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"Global Economic Recovery Is Growing, Says IMF." This Daily Mail headline was typical of the media's response to signs of economic recovery in August.

Marxists face two dangers when trying to assess the state of the economy. The first is to attempt to shoehorn the facts to fit with a preconceived account of crisis. The second is to simply accept at face value the analysis put forward by economists.

The figures for the second quarter of 2009 do show a low level of growth in Germany and France. Their GDPs (a measure of the total goods and services produced) rose by 0.3 percent. Japan's grew even faster and there are some indications that the US recession is bottoming out. However, the signs of recovery remain weak.

Zombie Capitalism

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Chris Harman, Bookmarks Publications; £16.99

Lenin once wrote of politics, "There are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen." For people around the world, rich and poor, young and old, this statement could rarely have rung more true than late in 2008 when the economic orthodoxy came down to earth with an almighty bump.

Unravelling Capitalism

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Joseph Choonara, Bookmarks Publications; £7.99

Last October the right wing Daily Mail reported that Karl Marx's Capital was a bestseller in Germany. Around the same time a Capital reading movement was initiated in over 30 different German universities by the student organisation associated with the left wing party Die Linke. More recently several groups of students at British universities including Birkbeck, King's College London and Oxford have begun similar projects (for example, see kclreadingcapital.blogspot.com).

Interview: David Harvey - Exploring the logic of capital

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Joseph Choonara spoke to acclaimed Marxist theoretician David Harvey about capitalism's current crisis and his online reading group of Karl Marx's Capital which shows the revival of interest in this work.

Some commentators view the current crisis as arising from problems in finance that then impinged on the wider economy; others see it as a result of issues that arose in production and then led to financial problems. How do you view it?

Was the 'New Deal' a good deal?

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It is accepted wisdom that President Franklin D Roosevelt pulled the US out of the Depression with the New Deal. But in reality there were numerous forces at play.

Will Barack Obama be another Franklin D Roosevelt? That is the question many people are asking. Underlying the question is the assumption that Roosevelt, elected for the first time in November 1932, single-handedly brought about radical change in the US, providing a solution to the Depression that followed the 1929 Wall Street Crash.

Two faces of John Maynard Keynes

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Economists, both left and right, are championing Keynes as the answer to the crisis. Since his theories do little to challenge the fundamental grip of capitalism, isn't it time for those on the left to recognise his flaws?

"Everyone is in thrall to the great economist now." So ran a piece in the Financial Times about John Maynard Keynes. And so it seems. The same message comes from US treasury secretary Hank Paulson and the Fed's Ben Bernanke at one extreme and from left wingers like Larry Elliot and Graham Turner at the other. Keynes showed in the 1930s how to stop crises, they all say, and his methods can work now.

The value of money

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How do the billions wiped off the stock market relate to the rest of the capitalist system? Joseph Choonara goes back to Karl Marx to explain.

Pity money. Over recent months it has been "injected" into markets, "destroyed" in financial meltdowns and stock market collapses; it has been "devalued" and "revalued" and passed along the increasingly unfathomable webs spun by capital.

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