Economy

“This was the year liberal democracy fought back,” declared Janan Ganesh, a particularly dull-witted columnist for the Financial Times on 15 November. The argument put forward by the FT’s international politics correspondent is that, following a period of chaos in which the ‘sensible political establishment’ was heavily discredited, 2022 has been

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Investors are calling time on cryptocurrencies, following the downfall of the FTX exchange and its founder, Sam Bankman-Fried. But this episode is only the latest in a long line of speculative bubbles – a symptom of the insanity of capitalism.

Nouriel Roubini is an interesting and unorthodox bourgeois economist. His main claim to fame is that he correctly predicted the 2008 financial crisis, a feat that did not endear him to most other economists, who predicted absolutely nothing.

The past few months have seen central banks scrambling to raise interest rates to control inflation. Yesterday, the Federal Reserve introduced another 0.75 percentage point hike, and the Bank of England will follow suit today. This spate of rate hikes caused mortgage rates to multiply, government borrowing rates to spiral, and now a recession looms. This will be painful for ordinary people, but will the ruling class achieve its aims?

Capitalism is incapable of offering a decent and dignified existence to workers and the poor, yet provides unimaginable luxury for the elite. While billions struggle to find enough to eat, the billionaires dine like royalty. The necessities of life are increasingly unattainable, yet capitalist governments plough billions into instruments of death. To quote Marx, these are the economics of the madhouse.

Brenda West, a 69-year-old retired widow, lost her home in Myakka City, Florida, to Hurricane Ian. She cares full time for her daughter, who has multiple sclerosis. Now, if she wants somewhere to live long term, she will have to contend with soaring rents and unattainable mortgages: symptoms of the global cost-of-living crisis. After a short stay in a run-down Bradenton motel, Brenda says: “I don't know where I'm going. My resources [are] about to run out.”

With inflation spiralling out of control, central banks are hiking interest rates, provoking recession. The ruling class is increasingly split, as the crisis of capitalism deepens. Only socialist revolution can provide a way out of this impasse.

Defenders of the free market look towards libertarians such as Hayek and Mises – and their assertion of an ‘economic calculation problem’ – in order to attack socialism. But in truth, Marxists answered these reactionary arguments long ago.

Last month, under conditions of extreme economic turmoil, the Sri Lankan masses burst into the presidential palace in Colombo, forcing hated president Gota Rajapaksa to flee and, soon after, announce his resignation. It immediately prompted the most frantic discussion amongst representatives of the ruling class, who are terrified of similar events occurring elsewhere.

The world economy is wracked with turbulence, buffeted by a perfect storm of war, pandemic, and protectionism. A toxic combination of inflation and recession looms for capitalism. This is a finished recipe for revolutionary explosions everywhere.

Earlier this month, a collapse on the scale of the largest crashes in recent history rocked markets. The Nasdaq stock exchange fell by almost 30% in one week, and the market capitalisation of cryptocurrencies simultaneously fell by 50%. Hundreds of billions of dollars were wiped out in just seven days. Since then, there has been no recovery.

The crisis in Ukraine has created a perfect inflationary storm. The war, the western sanctions on Russia, the pandemic, protectionism and climate change are unravelling decades of low commodity prices in a crisis that is only getting deeper.

In 2020, central banks responded to the outbreak of the crisis by pouring some $10 trillion of printed money into the economy. In what measured and responsible way did the markets react to such an unheard of cash injection? By engaging in an orgy of speculation without precedent in capitalism’s history!