Economic crisis

British capitalism attacks living standards on all fronts

The bubble of the British economy is about to burst. It appeared to be in reasonable health from the mid-1990s. However, we have shown that this has been achieved by cutting labour costs and increasing working hours, and by the increase in private consumption based on a massive extension of individual debt, primarily through mortgage equity withdrawal and credit card debt.

Attacks on health: NHS job losses and reduced health care

The crisis in the NHS is getting worse. It’s forecast to be in deficit by between £600 million and over a billion... For the leftists, it is Blair and New Labour’s love affair with private capital that is to blame. What none of them say is that the cause of this crisis is the crisis of capitalism. These attacks are part of a long-term strategy to reduce the burden of the NHS on British state capital that has been underway since the 1980s.

Pensions crisis shows capitalism has no future (2005)

The social system which runs the world – capitalism – cannot offer the human race a future. It is dragging us through an endless spiral of wars. It is poisoning the natural environment, leading to one catastrophe after another. It condemns millions to unemployment and poverty. And now, in the central countries of the system, it is telling us that it can no longer afford to support us after a lifetime of toil.

End of the Brownian economic miracle

In comparison to the economies of countries like France and Germany the British economy is supposed to be doing spectacularly well under the prudent direction of Gordon Brown. Inflation is ‘under control’, there’s ‘full employment’, low interest rates and, most recently, high levels of foreign investment, as well as the rest of the litany of claims that Labour always trots out.

Big brother in the warehouse

For all the supposed ‘success’ of the British economy its real position is actually very fragile. As we showed in a recent article in WR (283 and 284, ‘Britain can’t escape the world economic crisis’), after you’ve stripped away the government falsification of statistics you’re left with a state reliant on debt, an economy increasingly incapable of funding adequate pension provision, unemployment increasing, personal debt still growing and no prospects for improvements stimulated by growth anywhere else in the world economy.

Capitalism in crisis can only lengthen the working day

World Revolution 283 carried an article from WR’s 16th Congress entitled Britain can’t escape the world economic crisis. It explained the reasons for the relative ‘health’ of the British economy compared to its traditional European rivals. The main reason it identified is the increase in the level of exploitation of the working class in Britain over the last 20 to 30 years due to a general increase in the length of the working day...

Britain can’t escape the world economic crisis (part 2)

In the last issue of World Revolution we published the first part of the report on the National Situation presented to the 16th Congress of WR in November last year. This examined the reasons for the increase in the rate of growth of GDP in recent years, concluding that it came from an increase in the absolute rate of exploitation of the working class and, in particular, from an extension of the working day through an increase in the rate of overtime, especially unpaid overtime. In the second part, published below, we go on to consider how the ruling class completes the task - once again at the expense of the working class.

Collapse of Rover: The ruling class won’t rescue workers from the capitalist crisis

After a week of uncertainty the fate of the workers at the MG Rover in Birmingham was decided: 5,000 to be made redundant with an estimated 15-20,000 jobs threatened in the supply industries and local community. On the same weekend, the retailer Littlewoods announced the closure of its national chain of Index stores with the loss of some 3,000 jobs over the next 6 months. April may well be the cruellest month, but the coming months and years hold new storms that herald wider and deeper attacks on the working class.

Social Security Reform – A Frontal Attack on the Working Class

The current media blitz in the US about social security “reform” is the latest installment in a quarter century of austerity attacks against the American working class. American capitalism has been implementing austerity measures since President Carter first began talking about the “economic malaise” during the period of double digit inflation in the late 1970s.

16th Congress of WR: Britain can’t escape the world economic crisis

In the recent budget Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer boasted “Britain is today experiencing the longest period of sustained economic growth since records began in the year 1701 […] Inflation has been the lowest for 30 years. Interest rates the lowest for 30 years; employment the highest ever. And with living standards since 1997 rising on average by 3% each year, Britain has today the best combination of low inflation, high employment and rising living standards in a generation”.

Debt, fall of the dollar, rising oil prices: The crisis is getting worse

Despite the lowering of the dollar and the increases in oil prices, the specialist economic forecasters are reassuring themselves with the positive rates of growth for 2004: 4.7% for the USA; 3% for Japan; 1.6% for the Eurozone; 9.1% for the first three quarters of 2004 for China. How do we interpret these results? Is the world economy getting better? Can the United States, and above all China, presented by the bourgeoisie as the new Eldarado, be the locomotives of the world in order to re-launch the economy, including that of Europe?

We have no choice but to fight capitalism's attacks

The British government's announcement of the need to 'reform' the pensions system is not unique. Every national bourgeoisie is adopting the same measures: redundancy plans which don't leave any economic sector untouched; relocation of plant and investment; increasing hours of work; dismantling of social protection (pensions, health, unemployment benefits); wage cuts; the growing insecurity of employment and housing; deterioration of working and living conditions. All workers, whether at work or on the dole, whether still active or retired, whether they are in the private sector or the public sector, will from now on be confronted with these attacks on a permanent basis.

Economic crisis continues to deepen

One of the main ideological themes used by the dominant class during the 1990s, in order to maintain its ideological domination over society, was the supposed economic health and prosperity of its system. According to this fable, following the recession of 1990-91, the American economy enjoyed the longest period of recovery in history. For some years capitalist acolytes even declared that, thanks to the new communication technologies, their system had arrived at an era of permanent prosperity, and that the so-called "business cycle" had been definitively surpassed.

War is a Pretext for Austerity

The war in Iraq is being used by the American ruling class as a pretext to ram austerity measures down the throats of the working class. The attacks on the workers’ standard of living were actually initiated by the Bush administration last year, and have escalated sharply this year, constituting the most significant degradation of working class living conditions in more than twenty years. Patriotism and war propaganda are being used to push through these cuts with only minimal opposition. Not only is the working class paying for the war with the lives and physical well being of its young men and women in uniform on the battlefield, but it is being forced to endure a permanent decline in its standard of living to finance US imperialism’s war mongering policies.

World economy plunges into open recession

After months of warning of a possible economic slowdown, the American bourgeoisie has suddenly acknowledged that its economy has in fact been in recession since last March, based not on the traditional capitalist economic criteria of two consecutive quarters of negative growth, but for the first time based on an admission that rising unemployment can be utilized as an indicator of economic decline. 

The newest propaganda lie- Capitalism Blames Its Economic Woes on Terrorism

As the bourgeois media gave its gory accounts of the terrorist attacks in the attempt to rally the American working class behind its rulers’ war cry about the ‘necessity to unite behind the nation in its fight against terrorism’, it also subtly started to prepare the working class to accept sacrifices and belt-tightening of all sorts in the name of patriotism and the defense of the nation. For example early media reports following the NYC and Washington, DC carnage, conveyed the news that President Bush would have to put domestic policies on the back burner, and divert billions of dollars from Social Security and other social programs into the military effort. Numbed by the nationalist, patriotic propaganda blitz, this news was received without the least hint of opposition. The bourgeoisie wants to blame the accelerating economic difficulties on the terrorists, and to use patriotism to get the working class to accept the escalating crisis and its attacks on wages and the standard of living without a whimper. But this propaganda line just won’t wash.

The illusion of economic boom unravels

For years the media painted a rosy picture of the state of the American economy. Today all the hype about never-ending prosperity seems a distant memory. The myth of the “new economy” and the “end of the business cycle” has unraveled. The media is full of stories bemoaning the deteriorating economic situation. Officially the country isn’t yet in recession, although there are few economists that hold fast to this view. Elsewhere around the world, the situation is not much better with increasing signs that world capitalism is heading towards a new global, open recession. The situation is actually a lot worse than they would want us to believe.

US economy slides into open recession

During the 1990's the bourgeois media portrayed the US economy as an oasis of unlimited prosperity. Today this talk of a never-ending, booming economy is heard no more. The days of the "longest running economic recovery in US history" - as they used to call it - seem now to be gone. The debate now among bourgeois economists is not about the likelihood of a recession, but rather about how bad it will be, whether there will be a hard landing or a soft one. There are even some so-called pessimistic economists who say that there is already a recession, particularly in the manufacturing sector, the central industry of the economy.

The "economic boom" is a bluff:The Condition of the Working Class Continues to Worsen

The U.S. government continues to boast about its "unprecedented, longest running economic expansion in history." And it is true that the anticipated bursting of the "bubble economy," which we had anticipated was just around the corner has not occurred, and this despite the fact that the elements for open rececession seemed to be in place in 1998 following the collapse of the Asian tigers. State capitalism has demonstrated the resiliency to postpone its economic day of reckoning. On the one hand, much of this economic wonder is based on deception – the manipulation of economic data to paint an artificially rosey picture – and on policies designed to foist off the worst aspects of the global economic crisis on the peripheral countries of world capitalism. On the other hand, the degree to which there is economic growth in the U.S., or, more accurately, the absence of open recession, it hardly makes a difference from an historic perspective. The global economic crisis of world capitalism, a crisis of chronic overproduction, continues to deepen inexorably, regardless of the vicissitudes of the trade vicissitudes of the traditional business cycle that the bourgeoisie focuses on in its propaganda.

The increasingly bitter competition between nations

When the Bank of England takes up Corporal Jones' cry of "Don't panic!" it is clearly time for the working class to take a good hard look at the economy. On 12 February the Bank "attempted to avert a crisis of confidence in the economy as it urged the public not to panic about the country's prospects" (The Times Business 13.2.03). So, what is it we should not be panicking about?

The worsening of the crisis means more unemployment and poverty

Since the spring, the world economy has been the victim of a series of financial tremors: whole states, and some of the developed world's biggest companies, have gone bankrupt, the stock exchanges have rarely been so unstable and fragile. The bourgeoisie's clever economists have trotted out a whole list of explanations for this avalanche of problems: they have 'denounced' the disastrous policies of the IMF, pouring oil on the fire as it came to the 'rescue' of countries in difficulty, the scandal of stock-options encouraging stock market fiddling on a grand scale, the headlong flight into financial speculation and debt by companies, etc.

Corporate scandals reveal depth of economic crisis

Earlier this year the American ruling class proudly announced the end to the post-September 11 recession it had only recently acknowledged. Very reluctantly, faced with worsening economic statistics, the US bourgeoisie admitted its economy had in fact been in recession since March of 2001. Nevertheless, soon after this sombre admission, the American bourgeoisie precipitously declared the end to the ‘shortest recession in American history’ and announced the beginnings of an economic recovery. Since then, we have seen corporate bankruptcies (including the continuing circus surrounding Enron, which, at the time, was the largest bankruptcy in US history), spiralling redundancies and stock market turbulence which clearly give the lie to health of the US ‘model’.

Slide into recession means new attacks on living standards

When the CBI announced recently that Britain would escape recession, this was hardly enough to inspire confidence, particularly once we take into account the fact that manufacturing in Britain is in recession, with a 2% slump in output last quarter. This was followed by the news that the US economy is also just staying out of recession but with a growth rate close to zero. It has cut its forecast growth rate severely and its forecast budget surplus by 50%.

With the world economy in crisis, Labour continues to attack the working class

Regardless of delays in the date for the election, the campaign has already started, and it’s clear what’s in store.

The Labour Party’s mock horror movie posters, ‘Economic disaster II’ and ‘Son of Satan’, picturing Hague and other Tories, show that the strategy of making the campaign personal is no idle threat. “Even if we are criticised for being personal, we will be raising the profile of the election. We have got to give people a reason for voting and we will do that by stoking fear of the Conservatives” said a senior Labour spokesman (The Times 20.3.01). This follows on from Blair’s speech in Scotland in February condemning apathy, and Tony Benn’s farewell speech to parliament in which he said “The real danger to democracy is not that people will overrun Buckingham Palace and run up the Red Flag but that people won’t vote.” Academic studies have pointed to the possibility of the lowest electoral turn-out since 1918. The Socialist Alliance is trying to get workers interested in the democratic charade.

Behind the 'recovery' of the economy: The hidden crisis and attacks on the working class

But when the Chancellor presented his November pre-Budget report it was against the backdrop of some apparently impressive economic indicators. Unemployment was at a 20 year low of 4.2%; the public spending budget showed a surplus of £9.5bn. The OECD produced a glowing report on the health of the British economy, holding out the prospect of higher economic growth of 2.7% coupled with lower unemployment and inflation despite strong increases in household wealth and pay. Indeed, "The forecasts paint a golden scenario for the Labour government moving towards the next election" (Financial Times, 17/11/99).

Rover/Ford: When workers are under attack, class struggle is our only defence

The threatened massive redundancies at Rover would destroy up to 50,000 jobs in the West Midlands. The threat to cut car assembly at Dagenham (or even close it altogether) would cause similar devastation, on a smaller scale, in East London and Essex. Tens of thousands of workers face the misery of unemployment and poverty.


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