lunes, 1 de junio de 2015

En otras palabras: Redistribución o Guerra


"En otras palabras: El mundo desarrollado está en depresión. Ha estado en depresión desde 2007. Nunca abandonó la depresión. En el contexto de la depresión, hay todavía un ciclo de negocios: hay expansiones, hay recesiones, y así. Tiempos mejores y tiempos peores". No por breve deja de ser notable este diagnóstico de Ian Welsh realizado hace un par de días en su sitio web (http://www.ianwelsh.net/). Acá va la nota:


Título: Fourteen Points on the World Economy as the US GDP Drops .7 Percent

Texto: So, while it generally takes two quarters for a recession to be so-called, it may be that the recession is here. Let us recap the non-recessionary period:

* The percentage of people employed in the US never recovered;

* More than the total amount of growth went to the top four percent or so, with most of that going to the top one percent and most of that going to the top .1 percent;

* The stock market had a huge bull market, even though the economy wasn’t working for anyone but the top few;

* Outside America, the “south” of Europe never recovered in any meaningful way, and most European nations generally did badly for most of their citizens;

* Various resource nations did well for a time, but their success was based on demand from developed nations or, more commonly, from China;

* Chinese demand collapsed some time ago;

* China has been printing more money than either Japan or the US; much more;

* Japan’s “unconventional monetary policy” has been a roaring failure–if its intention was to get the Japanese economy going again;

* The collapse in oil prices last year helped the US briefly, but because the rest of the world has rolled off a cliff and because those gains couldn’t go widespread, it was only briefly (this is as I predicted at the time);

* Canada’s economy was hurt badly by the oil price crash, and because the mixed economy has been critically injured, there is very little else to hold up the economy;

* Both Britain (or London…almost the same thing) and Canada have huge housing bubbles, and those bubbles, with the addition of financial games, are all that holds those economies together at this point;

* Britain never actually recovered either, for the majority of its citizens–just a large enough minority to elect Cameron;

* Australia has tied itself massively to resource extraction on the back of Chinese demand. There is no meaningful Australian economy whose fate is not tied to China.

* India’s development is hollow neo-liberalism, and has seen an actual decrease in per capita calories. It is consumptive and limited to a few key areas.

Let me put this another way: The developed world is in depression. It has been in depression since 2007. It never left depression. Within that depression, there is still a business cycle: There are expansions, and recessions, and so on. Better times and worse times.

While cheap solar is a big deal, it is not yet deployed sufficiently to break the “widespread demand will crash the economy through oil price increases” problem, and this is exacerbated the by the deadlock rich elites have on most of the world’s politics and economic policies, since it is not in their interest to solve problems, but only to become more rich.  Not that solving problems is something they mind, if it makes them richer and keeps everyone else poor.

The world still has very few problems we couldn’t solve if we acted on them in a productive way (though some, like climate change and the great die-off, are beyond the point of no return for catastrophic damage), but that’s largely irrelevant while public policy remains in the hands of oligarchs. There is some reason for hope, as left-wing parties rise in Europe, but those green shoots are still nothing but green shoots.

I suggest that my readers who are able to make money do so now, you may soon find that you can’t. This is especially important if your employment is precarious.  Take care of yourselves, and take care of each other, unless you are lucky enough to live in the few rich, social democratic states left, you cannot expect much aid from your governments.



***



Encontramos el link a la nota de Welsh via el sitio Moon of Alabama (http://www.moonofalabama.org). El autor del post sugiere que se trata de una crisis de sobreproducción. ¿Soluciones? Redistribución o guerra. Acá va la nota:


Título: The Current Overproduction Crisis And War

Texto: Ian Welsh makes Fourteen Points on the World Economy as the US GDP Drops .7 Percent. He believes that the economy is again turning towards a global recession. This recession comes even as there has not been a real recovery from the last global economic crisis:

Let me put this another way: The developed world is in depression. It has been in depression since 2007. It never left depression. Within that depression, there is still a business cycle: There are expansions, and recessions, and so on. Better times and worse times. 

The business cycle is again turning down and is doing so sharply. Not only in the U.S. but also in Europe and Asia.

Every central bank has been throwing money at the local economies but that money finds no productive use. Why would a company invest even at 0% interests when nobody will buy the additional products for a profitable price? How could consumers buy more when wages are stagnant and they are already overburdened with debt taken up in the last expansion cycle? The central banks are pushing on a string while distorting normal market relations. This intensifies the original crisis.

My believe is that the global crisis we see is one of overproduction, an excess or glut of supplies and on the other side a lack of consumption. The exceptional cheap money created by the central banks makes  investment in machines preferable over employment of a human workforce. The result: Manufacturing hub starts work on first zero-labor factory

Chen predicted that instead of 2,000 workers, the current strength of the workforce, the company will require only 200 to operate software system and backstage management.

The (Central) bank gave Mr. Chen cheap money and at an interest rate of 0% a complete automation of his company may indeed be profitable. It is unlikely though that he would make the same move at an interest rate of 10%. But on the larger macro economic scale Mr Chen needs to ask this question: "How will the 1,800 laid off workers be able to buy the products my company makes?" Some of the laid off people may find marginal "service" job but the money they will make from those will likely be just enough to keep them alive. And over time flipping burgers will also be automated. And then?

Karl Marx described such overproduction crises. Their cause is a rising share of an economy's profits going to an ever smaller class of "owners" while the growing class of marginal "workers" gets less and less of the total pie. In the last decades this phenomenon can be observed all over the developed world. The other side of the overproduction crisis is an underconsumption crisis. People can no longer buy for lack of income.

While a realignment of central bank interest rates to historical averages, say some 6%, would help to slow the negative process it would not solve the current problem. Income inequality and overproduction would still increase though at a lesser pace. The historic imperialist remedy for local overproduction, capturing new markets, is no longer available. Global trade is already high. There is little land left to colonize and to widen the markets for ones products.

There are then two solutions to such an crisis.

One is to tackle the underconsumption side and to change the distribution of an economy's profits with a much larger share going to "workers" and a smaller share going to "owners". This could be achieved through higher taxes on "owners" and redistribution by the state but also through empowerment of labor unions and like means. But with governments all over the world more and more captured by the "owners" the chance that this solution will be chosen seem low.

The other solution for a capitalist society to a crisis of overproduction is the forced destruction of (global) production capabilities through a big war. War also helps to increase control over the people and to get rid of "surplus workers".

The U.S. was the big economic winner of World War I and II. Production capacities elsewhere got destroyed through the wars and a huge number of global "surplus workers" were killed. For the U.S. the wars were, overall, very profitable. Other countries have distinct different experiences with wars. In likely no other country than the U.S. would one find a major newspaper that arguing that wars make us safer and richer.

I am therefore concerned that the intensifying crisis of overproduction and its seemingly casual preference for war will, in years to come, push the U.S. into starting a new global cataclysmic conflict.

Neoconservatives like Victoria Nuland tried to goad Russia and the EU into a big war over Ukraine. The top lobbyist of the military industrial complex, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is trying to instigate a war between China and its neighbors over some atolls in the South China Sea. The U.S. is at least complicit in the rise of the Islamic State which will leave the Middle East at war for the foreseeable future.


Are these already, conscious or by chance, attempts by the U.S. to solve the problem of global overproduction in its favor?


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