Archive for the ‘Banking and financial services’ Category

This year is Marx’s bicentennial.  He was born in 1818 (May 5).  And March 14 was the 135th anniversary of his death.

This year is also the 170th anniversary of the Communist Manifesto.

Below are some of the pieces we have run on Redline about Marx’s ideas, including pieces which showing their continuing relevance to understanding the world as it is and as it could be.

What is Marxism?

What is exploitation?

How capitalism works – and why it doesn’t

Two articles on Wages, prices & lies and capitalist crisis

4,000 words on Capital

Karl Korsch on “tremendous and enduring” impact of Marx’s Capital (1932)

Engels on Marx on the Working Day

Marx’s critique of classical political economy

Capital, the working class and Marx’s critique of political economy

Capital and the state

How capitalist ideology works

Pilling’s Marx’s Capital: philosophy, dialectics and political economy

How capitalism under-develops the world

The political economy of low-wage labour 

Whatever happened to the leisure society?

Pensions and the retirement age – the problem is capitalism, not an aging population

A nightmare in whiteware: the ‘teamwork’ system, exploitation and alienation

Value, price and the ‘transformation problem’ in Marx’s Capital

The transformation problem and Marx’s crisis theory

Productive and unproductive labour in capitalist society

The use-value of Marx’s value theory

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Following a break after the substantial discussions on Imperialism in the 21st Century, the Imperialism Study/Discussion Group is moving on to Tony Norfield’s work on  the global financial system.  These discussions are being led by Tony, who recommends the following:

  1. Short article: https://economicsofimperialism.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/britains-financial-machinery.html

  2. Short article: https://economicsofimperialism.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/what-is-marxs-value-theory-worth.html

  3. Short article:  https://economicsofimperialism.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/capitalism-imperialism-profit-and.html

  4. Notes for a talk: https://economicsofimperialism.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/value-theory-finance-and-imperialism.html

  5. Video/audio of lecture: https://soas.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=76d81ed6-e831-44e1-bd14-931b381df70e

For this last item, the presentation, together with a Q&A session, takes a little over one hour, and it is possible to scroll through the presentation file used. (The only amendment I would make is that early on in my talk I wrongly said that Carlsberg was a Netherlands company, when it is Danish, and I should also have noted that Anheuser-Busch InBev/SAB Miller also had a US connection. I had other things on my mind at the time!)

This article was written three-and-a-half years ago, and we may have been a bit tardy in reblogging it here.  However, since the bitcoin phenomenon is still about and many people who have heard the term may not know what it is, how it works and how on earth some people have made a lot of money from it, we’re running the article at long last.

by Tony Norfield (June 2014)

I first paid little attention to Bitcoin, thinking that there are probably more Elvis Presley impersonators than there are people in the world who have traded or owned it. But seeing that central banks have issued policy statements on Bitcoin, that the FBI has ‘seized’ Bitcoin assets used by drug dealers and that tax authorities have given guidance on capital gains liabilities, while financiers are planning to offer exchange traded funds denominated in Bitcoin, I decided to take a second look. This article gives my assessment of this digital, alternative ‘currency’.*

Bitcoin emerged from the rubble of the (more…)

by Barnaby Philips

In Imperialism: the highest stage of capitalism, Lenin wrote that ‘the world has become divided into a handful of usurer states and a vast majority of debtor states’. Since formal decolonisation in the 1960s, his work has been dismissed as antiquated, even among sections of the radical Left. Now in 2017, with the capitalist system sinking into its deepest crisis since Lenin’s day, a new study into global trade has shown his analysis to be as relevant as ever. It revealed that between 1980 and 2012, the net outflows of capital from ‘developing and emerging’ oppressed countries being funnelled into ‘developed’ imperialist nations totalled $16.3 trillion. The truth about our ostensibly post-colonial world is that poor nations are still developing rich nations, the opposite of what we are so often told.

On 5 December 2016, the US-based Global Financial Integrity (GFI) and the Centre for Applied Research at the Norwegian School of Economics published the report Financial flows and tax havens: combining to limit the lives of billions of people.1 It found that in 2012, the last year of recorded data, ‘developing and emerging countries’ – in Central and South America, Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia – received a total of $1.3 trillion, including all aid, investment, and income, but that $3.3 trillion flowed out in the opposite direction to the ‘developed world’ – North America, Western Europe, Japan, South Korea and Australia.

These figures express the contemporary reality of imperialism: that a minority of oppressor nations, led by the US and Britain, plunder the rest of the world, oppressed nations, for profit and resources. As Lenin explained, the economic imperative behind this social relationship stems from the fact that capital exported from oppressor to oppressed nations is (more…)

This is the cover of the paperback edition which is being published on November 14 – ie 2 weeks time – by Historical Materialism

François Chesnais, Finance Capital Today: Corporations and Banks in the Lasting Global Slump, Brill, Leiden, 2016; reviewed by Tony Norfield

This book is well worth reading. It is written in a clear and accessible style and discusses key points about the limitations of capitalism and the role of contemporary finance. Perhaps its most important point is how the financial system has accumulated vast claims on the current and future output of the world economy – in the form of interest payments on loans and bonds, dividend payments on equities, etc.

These claims have outgrown the ability of the capitalist system to meet them, but government policy has so far managed to prevent a collapse of financial markets with zero interest rate policies, quantitative easing, huge deficits in government spending over taxation, and so forth. The result is an unresolved crisis, a ‘lasting global slump’, in which economic growth remains very weak and vast debts remain in place.

Distinguishing points

There are two related points in his approach to the world economy and finance that distinguish Chesnais from many other writers, and for which he deserves to be commended. Firstly, he states clearly that we are in a crisis of capitalism tout court (pp1-2), not a crisis of ‘financialised’ capitalism – the latter being one that could presumably be fixed if only the evil financiers were dealt with by a (capitalist) reforming government. Secondly, he takes ‘the world economy as the point of departure’ for his analysis, although that is ‘easier said than done’ (p11). While he shows the central role of the US, he avoids the wholly US-centred analysis common to radical critics of contemporary capitalism, and instead highlights how the other powers also play a key part in the imperial machine.

Finance Capital Today helps the reader’s understanding of the realities of contemporary global capitalism by providing a wealth of material evidence. It also helps one to clarify views about what is going on by discussing the theoretical context. In this review I will highlight the key points raised in the book and also discuss where I have a number of differences with Chesnais. These differences are sometimes merely of emphasis, or what may look like simply an alternative definition of a commonly used term. However, poor formulation of an argument can also lead to theoretical problems.

Origins of GFC

Chesnais begins by outlining the origins of the 2008 crisis, arguing that this had been postponed since 1998 by the growth of debt in the US and elsewhere, and by the surge of growth in China. In 2008, ‘the brutality of financial crisis was accounted for by the amount of fictitious capital accumulated and the degree of vulnerability of the credit system following securitisation’. The backdrop to the latest phase of crisis was also one that has made this crisis a (more…)

October 24, 2007: Merrill Lynch goes down

by Michael Roberts

It is exactly 10 years since the global financial crash began with the news that the French bank, BNP, had suspended its sub-prime mortgage funds because of “an evaporation of liquidity”.1

Within six months, credit tightened and inter-bank interest rates rocketed. Banks across the globe began to experience huge losses on the derivative funds set up to profit from the housing boom that had taken off in the US, but had started to falter. And the US and the world entered what was later called the great recession – the worst slump in world production and trade since the 1930s.

Ten years later, it is worth reminding ourselves of some of the lessons and implications of that economic earthquake.2 First, the official institutions and mainstream economists never saw (more…)

The paperback version of The City: London and the Global Power of Finance, is released today. This edition contains a sixteen-page Afterword on the following topics:

  • Brexit and imperial power
  • The City, Brexit and world developments
  • Immigration and nationalism
  • Trump and the US hegemon
  • Shifting tectonic plates

These develop and update points raised before.

With a cover price of £10.99 and US$16.95 in the global book market, the paperback version of The City is currently available at the following prices:

Verso, £7.69

Amazon.co.uk, £9.98

Amazon.com, $11.52

An eBook is also available.

Do your own arbitrage!