Archive for the ‘Limits of capitalism’ Category

indiacontrastby Manali Chakrabarti

According to the World Bank, India’s nominal GDP crossed the $ 2 trillion mark in 20141, and is slated to grow at close to 8 per cent annually in 2016 and 20172. To put this in perspective: In 1991, the year the Indian economy was opened up and we embraced neoliberal policies, the Indian GDP was about $275 billion, which by the turn of the century had doubled to $481 billion. But the really rapid growth of the Indian economy has been in the last 15 years, which saw GDP increase by almost four-and-a-half times. One needs to remember that these include years which saw the greatest global recession since the 1930s. Thus, for the economy as a whole the promised ‘achche din’ seem to be happening and there are numbers to prove it. The policymakers who have been rooting for further opening up and freeing of the economy have been justifiably sporting a smug expression with this quantitative endorsement of their position.

However, one vexing question for them is that some people continue to claim that all this growth has not translated into alleviation of poverty–the ‘poor’ have been stubbornly (more…)

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Below are some of our articles on the Key-English government.  While English has a somewhat different ‘style’ from Key – he’s rather more dour – his and Key’s economic views were very much on the same page: a middle-of-the-road, easy-as-she-goes approach.  Borrow and spend, slightly reduce income tax and slightly raise indirect tax (GST), slightly increase welfare benefits and keep the retirement age at 65.  Sell some shares in the state’s own capitalist enterprises but keep a majority shareholding in these businesses in the hands of the state.  In other words, on economic policy overall, they were probably a little to the left of Helen Clark.

One difference between the Key period and this year is that English now has a considerable budget surplus to play around – and, of course, 2017 is election year.

The analyses on Redline of the Key-English regime have held up particularly well – especially compared to the near-hysterical attempts of so many on the left to paint Key as some ardent neo-liberal who would take up where Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson left off!!!

The Key-English government in the context of capital accumulation in New Zealand today

Key’s ‘vision’: managing the malaise of NZ capitalism

Rock star economy and the Lost Prophets

Key’s government not neo-liberal, admits Unite union leader

 

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by Michael Roberts

The tech giant Apple has accumulated an enormous cash hoard of $246bn, larger than Sri Lanka’s estimated 2016 GDP. If Apple’s cash pile was its own public company, it would be the 13th largest in the world. Much of this cash pile ($215bn) is held abroad to avoid paying the higher rate of corporation tax that the US applies. For example Apple paid only 0.005 per cent tax in Ireland in 2014. The EU Commission is trying to force Apple pay a proper tax amount to Ireland on the grounds that its profits in Europe have not been taxed properly because it accounts for its sales through Ireland. The Irish government has sided with Apple in this dispute!

But Apple’s cash pile is not actually “cash” nor “on hand”. Apple has only about $16.7 billion in cash and equivalents on its balance sheet. The rest is stashed in long-term marketable securities, meaning Apple plans to let those funds — roughly $177 billion — accrue interest for more than a year.

Big cash hoards, but rocketing debt too

Everybody notices the high cash hoards that some of the largest US companies are accumulating but do not notice that their debt has rocketed too. Apple’s debt has exploded. It has $80bn in debt, which since 2012 is essentially an increase of $80bn. That’s right, a few years ago, Apple had near-zero debt levels and now has a solid $80bn worth.

unnamedAnd while cash and securities pile up overseas, Apple is piling up debt in the US. Apple – even before this latest borrowing – had more debt than the telecom and cable companies which typically carry the most debt since they have stable cash flow and slow growth. The company currently sits on about $53.2 billion in long-term debt obligations as well as $32.2 billion in “non-current liabilities,” after executing a series of bond sales including the largest in history for a nonfinancial U.S. business, making it the fourth most-indebted company in the Standard & Poor’s 500.

By borrowing instead, Apple gets cash to (more…)

by Louise O’Sheaflagtrump-1

US capitalism was a disaster for the majority of the country’s residents, and for the majority of the world’s population, well before Donald Trump came along. And now it’s about to get a whole lot worse.

Four decades of ruling class attacks have created one of the most unequal societies in world history. The billionaire and multi-millionaire class has grown in number year after year while real wages have been stagnant. Entire sections of the country are Third World status.

The economic shocks of neoliberal restructuring* have left dilapidated infrastructure in both city and town. The financial crisis and recession from 2008 made things even worse. In many cities, there are blocks of shuttered shops, even totally empty or decaying suburbs. In total, 43 million people live in poverty. And 20 million live in trailer parks.

More than 2 million people, disproportionately Black and Hispanic, are locked (more…)

The picture below appeared on Mike Alewitz’s facebook page.  Mike is a longtime left activist and artist in the States.  It’s a great variation on – and far more inspiring than – the old Pastor Niemoller quote about they came for this group of people and then that group of people etc and no-one resisted. Mike made the following comment:

“One of the glorious aspects of the recent demonstrations is the lack of pre-printed signs and banners handed out by Democratic Party hacks and union bureaucrats.

“Instead we have seen an explosion of creative sign making – hand lettered messages that are funny, emotional, insightful and clever. These works are giving genuine expression to the aspirations of tens of thousands of workers, artists and activists.

“Here is a favorite of mine – artist and photographer unknown.

“This kind of organic art has always been around, but Donald Trump has definitely been an outstanding inspiration!

“(As both a professional sign painter and professor emeritus of street art, I heartily endorse this development).”

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banner-2by Susanne Kemp

We’ve reported several times on the legislation to create a new Fire and Emergency service (see here and here).  From the start, the firefighters’ union has raised a number of substantial problems with the legislation.  The union also made a detailed submission on the bill.

banner-3However, when the legislation was reported back from the select committee shortly before Xmas, it was evident that not a single part of the union’s submissions were being reflected in the Bill.

As I wrote earlier, the main union points were: (more…)

14212646_1447524148591892_5975073272711408028_nby John Smith

The attack on organised labour and working people in Europe, Japan and the USA, through intensification of labour, wage repression and cuts in social spending, was on its own nothing like enough to allow capitalism to escape from the systemic crisis of the 1970s. The most important contribution to the resumption of capitalist accumulation in its heartlands was the surplus-value extracted from hundreds of millions of workers in the export-oriented industries of the Third World (or Global South) and captured by imperialist transnational corporations (TNCs) and their suppliers as profits and by imperialist states through taxation. Once again, systemic crisis propelled capitalism along an imperialist trajectory.

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Increased competition

By exposing workers in imperialist countries to increased competition with workers in low-wage countries, outsourcing, even the threat of it, has proved to be a powerful weapon against organised labour, which could not resist because its leaders failed to heed Marx’s prescient warning: “In order to oppose their workers, the employers either bring in workers from abroad or else transfer manufacture to countries where there is a cheap labour force. Given this state of affairs, if the working class wishes to continue its struggle with some chance of success, the national organisations must become international” (Marx, 1867).

The employers’ offensive in the imperialist countries in the decades before 2007 was most intense in the United States, where the median real wage has barely changed since the late 1970s and where the social safety net has been shredded.(1) Since wage inequality sharply increased during this period, it is evident that broad layers of the US working class have experienced declining wages. In contrast, most workers in most European countries experienced a slow but steady advance in real wages since 1980—including in the UK, despite Thatcher’s onslaught on unions. The major exception is Germany, where, according to the OECD, between the mid-1990s and 2008 real incomes of the poorest 30% of German households declined and those of the next 30% barely moved (Fredrikson, 2012).

The  German reunification in 1990, which exposed West German workers to competition from lower-paid workers from East Germany, and the eastern expansion of the European Union, which exposed them to competition with workers across central Europe, ended the era when (more…)