China: zig zagging
Michael Roberts Blog
by michael roberts
1w ago
China is in deep trouble.  Its zero-COVID policy has failed; the economy has slowed to halt; it now has a falling and fast-ageing population; it is in the midst of a property and debt crisis; so it is heading for a permanent, low productivity growth stagnation like Japan.  Xi’s leadership is in crisis as he flails about swinging from one policy to another.  And the risk is that the ‘aggressive nationalism’ of the CPC will lead to military action against ‘democratic’ Taiwan, just as Russia did with Ukraine.  That’s the line of the Western economic experts and the media on a ..read more
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Davos 23: going pear-shaped
Michael Roberts Blog
by michael roberts
1w ago
This week, the jamboree of the rich global elite of the World Economic Forum (WEF) has started again after the COVID interregnum.  Top political and business leaders have flown in on their private jets to discuss climate change and global warming, as well as the impending global economic slump, the cost of living crisis and the Ukraine war. Their mood is apparently downbeat.  Two-thirds of chief economists surveyed by WEF believe there is likely to be a global recession in 2023, with nearly one in five saying it is extremely likely to occur. Corporate leaders are also anxious, with ..read more
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Wages, prices and profit – turning down
Michael Roberts Blog
by michael roberts
1w ago
The inflation rate for consumer prices in the US has clearly peaked and is falling steadily.  The latest figure for year-on-year inflation in December was 6.4%, down from a peak of 9.0% last summer.  Core inflation (which excludes prices for food and energy) has also peaked but not by nearly as much.  That’s because it is food and energy price inflation that has slowed the most.  Energy price inflation has halved as oil and gas prices drop back and there has been a peak in food prices.  But housing costs continue to accelerate and other services prices fell only a litt ..read more
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ASSA 2023 part two: the radical – monopoly and war
Michael Roberts Blog
by michael roberts
2w ago
In some ways, the radical sessions at ASSA were disappointing. As far as I could tell there were no papers on the causes of the rise in inflation or on what policies to adopt to support labour on this issue.  Maybe this is sour grapes from me, as URPE rejected my own paper on a Marxist theory of inflation for inclusion in their ASSA sessions. Instead, the sessions focused on whether monopoly power was the dominant development in 21st century capitalism.  And of course, Ukraine was also a key issue – and it is interesting to compare the approaches of the mainstream sessions (see ASSA ..read more
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ASSA 2023 part one: the mainstream – fiction and reality
Michael Roberts Blog
by michael roberts
2w ago
As usual, there were hundreds of sessions and papers at this year’s ASSA 2023, the annual conference of the American Economics Association (AEA).  In this post, I shall concentrate my report on the mainstream economics sessions and on what I considered to be key topics and the most illuminating. Let’s start with the US economy.  In the big arena of the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton in New Orleans, we were treated to presentations by leading mainstream economists under the title ‘Economic Shocks, Crises and Their Consequences’.  The title tells it all.  The premise of mainstr ..read more
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Forecast 2023: the impending slump
Michael Roberts Blog
by michael roberts
1M ago
At the end of every year, I attempt to make a forecast on what will happen in the world economy in the next year.  Of course, forecasts are wrapped in error, given the many variables involved that drive economies.  Weather forecasts are still difficult to make and here meteorologists are dealing with physical events and not (at least directly) with human actions.  Nevertheless, weather forecasts up to three days ahead are now pretty accurate.  And longer term climate change forecasts have been broadly borne out over the last few decades.  So if we consider that economi ..read more
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Books of the year
Michael Roberts Blog
by michael roberts
1M ago
Every year at this time, I look back at any books that I have reviewed.  I’ll start with Bradford DeLong’s book, Slouching towards Utopia, because this was considered the best economic history book of the year.  DeLong is regarded as one of the world’s most prominent Keynesian economists.  I debated with him once way back in 2016 at the annual conference of the American Economics Association (ASSA 2016).  In that debate, DeLong criticised Marxists like me for ‘just waiting for Godot’, (following the play by Samuel Beckett ), namely that we were saying that nothing could be ..read more
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Can global capitalism endure?
Michael Roberts Blog
by michael roberts
1M ago
Can global capitalism endure?  William Robinson tries to answer this question in his book entitled with the same question. Robinson is professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In a fast-moving account, Robinson covers a lot of ground in offering the reader a vision of the global capitalist crisis and the accompanying international conflagration.   It flows like an essay rather than a stodgy full-length book.  As Robinson says, “my aim is to present a “big picture” snapshot in a shorter work and from the vantage point of global capitalism theory tha ..read more
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The US rate of profit in 2021
Michael Roberts Blog
by michael roberts
1M ago
Every year, I analyse the US rate of profit on capital.  This is because the US data is the best and most comprehensive to use and because the US is the most important capitalist economy, often setting the scene for trends in global capitalism.  We now have the data for 2021 (that’s as far as the official national data go). There are many ways to measure the rate of profit a la Marx – see http://pinguet.free.fr/basu2012.pdf).  I prefer to measure the rate of profit by looking at total surplus value in an economy against total private capital employed in production; to be as clos ..read more
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Digital work and exploitation
Michael Roberts Blog
by michael roberts
1M ago
John Michael Roberts (no relation) is Professor of Sociology and Communications at Brunel University London. In his new book, Digital, Class, Work: Before and During COVID-19, Roberts argues that the pandemic has altered and fundamentally changed many social practices in society.  “Nowhere is this more apparent than with the relationship between digital technology, labour and work.”  Roberts criticises those theorists who claim that this post-pandemic digital capitalism means that Marx’s theory of value and exploitation of labour is no longer relevant to the nature of class relations ..read more
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