Great interview on the crisis of capitalism with Leo Panitch, Sam Gindin, Greg Albo

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milo204
Great interview on the crisis of capitalism with Leo Panitch, Sam Gindin, Greg Albo
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N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

I like that views such as the following are clearly expressed ...

[quote= Greg Albo] I think there's a real bankruptcy of ideas among liberals and social democrats. [/quote]

... and, obviously, needs to be said. However, views such as the following ...[quote=Greg Albo] Certainly, its clear that the political forces in no part of the world have been able to break out of the neoliberal political policies or the balance of power that has backed neoliberalism, that is, the way that finance and industry have supported neoliberal policies at the level of the state. [/quote]

... is followed by something like this ...

[quote=Albo] I think the continuing momentum and the breakthrough in the Andean countries as challenges to neoliberalism-not that either Bolivia or Venezuela have managed to break-through neoliberalism, but they have been combining, developing new political forces with anti-neoliberal and anti-capitalist political agendas-is helping to reform the left across the continent of Latin America and it's a very positive development globally. [/quote]

This is misleading as the group of countries belonging to ALBA (Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Brazil to some degree in non-gov organizing, and so on) seems to be trivialized. That's something the other side would do.

 

However, it makes interesting reading as long as the Eurocentric, North American centric premises are understood.

 

Fidel

[quote=Leo Panitch] This arguably is the fourth. The first great crisis of capitalism was from 1873-1896, it's often argued. The second was the Great Depression of the 1930s. The third was the crisis of Keynesianism and of profits in the 1970s. And we may be entering the fourth. Each of those crises had different causes and different outcomes. They are not all caused by the same thing and they don't all lead to the same type of outcome.[/quote]

And Panitch goes on to describe post-WW II globalizing capitalism, and back on track post-1970's crisis etc. I don't think he mentioned the VietNam war, which some economists say today was the larger reason for inflation of the 70's and not so much lavish social spending pointed to by political conservatives at the time. They were printing money so to speak in order to fund an immoral war in Vietnam and carried through by the doctor and the madman bombing the daylights out of Cambodia.

I think that today's globalizing capitalism really is in trouble. The IMF is warning of debt crisis spreading to Asia. Europe is essentially bankrupt. The situation could leave the IMF and USA as sources of capital for lending to first world and developing economies. But the IMF is running out of money, and the USA is essentially insolvent and dozens of States essentially bankrupt. They've offshored a lot of heavy industry and means of generating hard currency to pay down debts run-up by the world's most energy intensive and most unsustainable economy in world history. There will be no real recovery this time by printing money. The world's leading economy based largely on war will probably look to more war as a solution to this debt crisis. Liquid war and terrorism financed by the west is already a reality in Central Asia. There are ongoing threats againts Iran by nuclear armed NATO gangsters. And US Military continuing to surround Russia and China with military bases and weapons and communications installations. There has been no real reduction in US military spending since 1991. It appears to me as if capitalists have every intention of turning to war capitalism, once again, as a solution to this fourth crisis. But printing more money will not be a solution this time.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Uncle "Capital" : "The rumours of my death are greatly exaggerated. And tell that babbler Fidel that I, in no way, resemble low hanging fruit. Dream on, dipper."

Fidel

[quote=N.Beltov]

Uncle "Capital" : "The rumours of my death are greatly exaggerated. And tell that babbler Fidel that I, in no way, resemble low hanging fruit. Dream on, dipper."[/quote]

I know what you mean about capital having nine lives. For now, see [url=http://www.gazette.com/articles/mullen-47273-military-time.html]this[/url], [url=http://articles.latimes.com/2009/feb/13/nation/na-security-threat13]this..., and [url=http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE51B64820090212]this[/url].

[url=http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/0,1518,706321,00.html]German Giants Flee Wall Street[/url]

[url=http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article21381.html]China calls USA's bluff[/url]

As Leo says, this is probably a unique crisis among capitalist crises. Last century saw the end of a half dozen or so empires. I think it's the USSA's turn this time. Economic historian Michael Hudson says that the foundations of capitalism are weaker today than even Marx predicted.

Ryan1812 Ryan1812's picture

I will agree that the global financial crisis may have signalled the waining of the USA's neoliberal empire, but the final death of it will not come in this century. I don't even think, to be honest, that we have seen the climax of the American empire. I think that the USA is still in it's adolesence. The political and economic power of the USA, in my honest opinion, has yet to be fully realized. The French and British Empires also had this same adolesent period that saw them struggle, and then be reborn more powerful then before. I'm not happy about this, becuase the USA is still that same Manifest Destiny led merchantile nation it has always been. They, and we, are still living our lives of the backs of the LDC's and DC's and this isn't going to change in my life time.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Well, don't go to the other extreme. The Empire is in decline, they're just not dead ...  yet.

Fidel

[quote=Ryan1812]I will agree that the global financial crisis may have signalled the waining of the USA's neoliberal empire, but the final death of it will not come in this century. I don't even think, to be honest, that we have seen the climax of the American empire.[/quote]

I think America is about where Britain was by the mid 1950s with respect to influence over its former colonies slipping away. The USSA peaked in 1980 wrt being the largest military and economic power in the world. Today America is the largest military power and will increasingly have to choose between maintaining bloated military budgets and funding public sector spending on necessities, or that part of the USA's economy that has little or nothing to do with free market capitalism. The problem for American empire today is that other countries rich and poor are losing faith in laissez-faire financial capitalism, and that their central banks have actually been financing US Military buildup all around their borders and especially so since 1971 with the rise of petrodollar imperialism. Countries like China and Russia and a few more are not so keen on putting their eggs in one basket so to speak with buying more US debt. Something has to give.

 

Jacob Richter

US imperialism went past its apex after the Vietnam War.  Until that point, occupations had a beneficial role for the US, and the US could spend lots of money on reconstruction for mutual benefit.

Now, that's just not the case.  The US military is geared purely for destruction, with not much of a reconstruction apparatus.

Fidel

[quote=Greg Albo]I think there's a real bankruptcy of ideas among liberals and social democrats....[/quote] [quote=Greg Albo]It's forming a left that is more open for new political initiatives, is more open to longer term organization-building, and I think is breaking from the lock that has been on the left both in Canada and in the U.S. of trying to fight our politics either through the Democratic Party or the some combination of the Liberal Party and New Democratic Party in Canada. I think that's very positive for us being able to build a new left in North America over the next couple or years.[/quote]

[size=12] Is it my imagination or does Albo makes it sound as if the NDP have been in federal power in Ottawa for too long?

It certainly sounds good that workers in general need to fight back. And Leo Panitch does say that he could go on listing the ways in which neoliberalism has changed the ways in which workers organize and battle for things like living wages and rights etc. Economic historian Michael Hudson says that Marx believed that finance capital would eventually be subordinated to the needs of industrial capitalism, and eventually paving the way for socialism. Marx and others of his century were quite optimistic about the future of industrial capitalism (the older state-capitalism) and how it would lead to worker ownership of the means of production, and socialism.

I believe as Michael Hudson believes that if workers want to regain lost footing in the battle for a better quality of life, we have to do as Marx suggested we do. And that is to fight for democracy. We must win the battle for democracy. And we must fight for a return to industrial capitalism and capital formation in the real economy and not concentration of capital in a parasitic Disneyland economy of finance capital. Hudson says that reading volumes II & III of Capital reveal this to be true in modern times.

And we social democrats will continue to push for government ownership of the responsibilities for funding public programs and pensions etc and not sloughing people off toward increasing reliance on "the market" for necessities like housing and food on the table and annual incomes fit for human beings. And this is basically what the NDP adocatesm which is pushing Ottawa to take back the responsibility for these things they have told Canadians they could no longer afford to finance since 1993-1995. As Marx said people must do, we must fight for and win the battle for democracy. That means working toward unseating those two parties that have had tight grips on federal power ih Ottawa since 1867 through today and non-stop.[/size]

[url=http://michael-hudson.com/2010/07/from-marx-to-goldman-sachs-the-fiction... Marx to Goldman Sachs: The Fictions of Fictitious Capital[/url] Michael Hudson

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

The battle "for democracy" does not end with Parliamentary cretinism. Albo and others like him point out that social democrats, such as yourself Fidel, typically underestimate the amount of struggle required even for the very modest gains that an NDP administration MIGHT enact.

As for the much more difficult and PERMANENT gains associated with, say, a Canadian version of socialism, I really believe that's it's beyond your imagination entirely. But, hey, the orange-flavoured team is better than the red-flavoured team, or that nasty blue-flavoured team. Most of the time, that is. :)

Fidel

[quote=N.Beltov]

The battle "for democracy" does not end with Parliamentary cretinism. Albo and others like him point out that social democrats, such as yourself Fidel, typically underestimate the amount of struggle required even for the very modest gains that an NDP administration MIGHT enact.[/quote]

The NDP doesn' promise that they MIGHT reverse Liberal Government rollbacks of social gains and funding of social democracy to 1940's levels across Canada. The NDP is promising that they WILL fight tooth and nail to achieve exactly that with enough NDP MP's in Ottawa. And the NDP says that replacing the tens billions of dollars in core funding removed from everything from health care to education is doable. As I was saying before a hundred times in other threads, social funding as well as total federal tax take is well below the OECD capitalist country average. It's been the dynamic duo Bay Street parties in power and sharing power in Ottawa that have made Canada into a rightwing US Libertarian's dream come true. The NDP has done more opposiing of the neoliberal agenda in Canada since trudeau's time in the sun than some people are willing to give them credit for and not naming any names here.

[quote=N. Beltov]As for the much more difficult and PERMANENT gains associated with, say, a Canadian version of socialism, I really believe that's it's beyond your imagination entirely. But, hey, the orange-flavoured team is better than the red-flavoured team, or that nasty blue-flavoured team. Most of the time, that is. :)[/quote]

I think that a national opinion poll says you're lacking in imagination yourself, and that Canadians really do want health care and education and uI-Ei-oh? and the post-war social lien in Canada funding at pre Shawinigan Strangler and Paulie Pockets levels. You might turn your nose up at these hard-fought for social gains made by Canadian workers, civil society groups, the CCF and NDP in the last century, but I think you're wrong as to how much Canadians value those gains which made living in a capitalist system bearable for several generations of people in Canada.

All powerful industrial capitalists of Marxian theory have since been overthrown by a parasitic financier elite over the last 35 years or so which Marxists never expected might occur. Down is now up and vice versa. It's a new world order and class struggle redefined by finance and banksters. How can trade unionists wield the same bargaining power today with so much of the real economy offshored, sold off and pawned off? What we have today is oligarchy and class struggle even farther behind the eight ball than Marx predicted, N. Beltov. Workers need to get in the game and stop pointing to social democrats as being responsible for the neoliberal voodoo and place blame directly on the shoulders of those two Bay Street parties that tied Canada's economic wagon of fortunes to corporate America since St Laurent and Diefenbaker through to Mulroney and Chretien. The arithmetic of the thing is simple - we need Venezuelan style MMP to catapult Hugo Chavez of the North into the halls of power, and not in Winnipeg but Ottawa where we have enjoyed Washington style lobbying and rightwing think tanks bending the ears of our useless senators and politicos since Brian Mulroney.

 

George Victor

The new, complete dependence of workers on The Market can be corrected by collapse of The Market.  Then we are all destitute together and can begin all over, starting with a command economy and strict exchange controls.   Smile 

Fidel

Well N.B. may prefer this quote from Hudson's Critique essay, because he, too, comes down on social democratic and Labour parties:

[quote=Michael Hudson]Many Social Democratic and Labour parties have jumped on the bandwagon of finance capital, not recognizing the need to rescue industrial capitalism from dependence on neofeudal finance capital before the older conflict between labor and industrial capital over wage levels and working conditions can be resumed. That is what happens when one reads only Volume I of Capital, neglecting the discussion of fictitious capital in Volumes II and III and Theories of Surplus Value.[/quote]

I like Panitch's call for nationalising the means of money creation and credit. I also like Jack Layton's knowledge of marauding capital. I think Layton would be a good guy to have in Ottawa in the event that there is a political challenge to international capital.

Ryan1812 Ryan1812's picture

 

I'm sorry but Fidel's pie in the sky is just too tempting for me to resist. I agree with Hudson entirely, and have actually studied much of Panitch as a social historian. Here's the point, a return to industrial capital WILL NOT HAPPEN! The longer and longer the Canadian left, or the North American left, fights to reinstate this anachronism, the longer we will be mired in old battles long since won by the neoliberals. Come on Fidel.  Seriously, neoliberalism has won the game. There is nothing that drives prices lower, makes consumer's happier and uses up our resource base more (to the smiles of Liberals and Conservatives alike) the our current system. It's rock solid and it isn't going to change. We on the left need to pull our heads out of the sand and realize ourselves that we are still stuck in the good ole-days when we had it good, when industrial capital had our backs, when we were organized and had a proud and strong voice. THAT VOICE IS GONE! It's been broken since the 70's-80 and it isn't coming back.

We need a new directive, a new plan, a new way to bring our voices together because, my brother in arms, industrial capital isn't it. I agree with many of the speakers we are discussing about in this thread that the left is lacking good ideas and cohesion. Why is it that our social investments are lower than the OECD average I wonder? Could it be because the OECD, like the World Bank, like the IMF, is a neoliberal engine that strives to decrease the tax burden and pillage LDC's and DC's alike for the benefit of low prices? The NDP isn't going to change this. They are neoliberal-lite, to quote one my fiancées poli-sci professors.

The NDP will not gain a powerful hold because Canadians, by and large don't trust them. Proportional representation isn't coming now, or ever, because the business elite know it will not benefit them. Canada now, more than ever, is a business paradise BECAUSE neoliberalism has won out here, more than anywhere else. Even in the states they are able to collect together and oppose things. I envy the Tea Party movement. At least they have cohesion. We in the left in Canada have nothing. We aren't cohesive because we are so busy vying for the scraps at the neoliberal table we haven't looked to see just what we have given up and how useless it is to fight the fights of old.

I admire your stick-to-itiveness Fidel, I really do. And I admire your ability to look at the discouraging future we have and think "we will do better." But unfortunately, I've lived too long and seen so much in so few years, and been so involved in the political process. I know it's useless to fight it. I hate it, ya know. Really I do! I was once like you and felt that we on the left, if we just banded together, could bring back the glory days and make them the most shining example of social fortune that ever was. But I hit a wall and realized that breaking neoliberalism is, in a word, impossible. I won't be beaten, it can't be beaten. To try to is to waste your time. Eek out your own social change and make it good. Use less plastic, and don't buy products that aren't socially conscious. Beyond that, we are the dystopia. God help us.

 

George Victor

You and Saruman the White, Ryan!   Quite the capitulating pair, having "lived too long and seen so much in so few years"! Thirty something?

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Good one, George. I guess Ryan has never heard of ALBA, or the council of wizards. Or Bombadil. Or, ...

Fidel

[quote=Ryan1812]

 

I'm sorry but Fidel's pie in the sky is just too tempting for me to resist. I agree with Hudson entirely, and have actually studied much of Panitch as a social historian. Here's the point, a return to industrial capital WILL NOT HAPPEN! The longer and longer the Canadian left, or the North American left, fights to reinstate this anachronism, the longer we will be mired in old battles long since won by the neoliberals.[/quote]

Well I believe Marxian insight is required to understand what's happening today. Basically neoliberalism is another version of laissez-faire state capitalism, or that which failed in North America after a 30 year run by 1929. Marx described contradictions inherent to both industrial as well as financial capitalism. Marx didn't believe that the parasitic form of capitalism would overthrow industrialism due to the destructive nature of finance and usury. What rightwing ideologues have done since 1980, which was to prop-up finance and banking at the expense of productive labour economies in a number of countries defies all logic. But this is what has unfolded over the last 30-35 years or so. As Michael Hudson and others have said, I don't believe there will be a real economic recovery of western world capitalism until a massive write-down of debt takes place on a scale of the financial deal between nations that took place by the latter half of the 1940s at Bretton Woods. The inherent contradiction today is exactly how Marx described it but with world wide debts integrated in what is now a globalizing economy and exceeding whole nations' ability to repay them. It's a giant Ponzi scheme gone bad. What can not be repaid won't be. There will be a major overhaul of the international monetary system within the next ten years with the current political capital of neoliberal ideologues on the wane everywhere. Change for better or worse is in the pipeline I believe. But generally they prefer small and profitable war as a solution to crises of capitalism as opposed to world war as the latter tends to lead to chaotic upheaval and most importantly,  revolutions.

Ryan1812 Ryan1812's picture

[quote=George Victor]

You and Saruman the White, Ryan!   Quite the capitulating pair, having "lived too long and seen so much in so few years"! Thirty something?

[/quote]

I was under the impression his name was "the Wise," in which case, thank you. As far as capitulating and hyperbole, I have been in a hospital for a week and am not my usual realistic self. Perhaps it is a bit much to exclaim that I have een so much after only 26 years on this earth. However, I do feel that I have seen, read and lived alot, and these things give me the opinion that deafeat isn't just imminent, but is here. But pleast, prove me wrong.

George Victor

Could you explain why your age group tends not to vote?  Is the defeatism a general malaise of the twenty-somethings?

p.s.  Be well. 

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

I don't think Ryan is all that far off when he claims that a return to some state run industrial capitalism from the current dominance of finance or finance-industrial capital is a fantasy. However, when we discuss ideological matters, like neoliberalism, then a philosophy of capitulation seems counter-productive. The other side does a fine job of that already.

Ryan1812 Ryan1812's picture

[quote=George Victor]

Could you explain why your age group tends not to vote?  Is the defeatism a general malaise of the twenty-somethings?

p.s.  Be well. 

[/quote]

To be honest GV I don't know. I've voted since I was of age and truth be told, the first thing I did when I turned voting age was joined the NDP and sought out the federal contituency association to figure out how to become a member. It baffles my mind that people have the opinion that because they have the right to say no, that means they should. Voting is an obligation, a responsibility and the malaise or disinterest that follows around the twenty-something group continues to keep me in awe.

siamdave

They start by saying the left needs 'new ideas' - no, the 'left' needs to open its eyes and accept certain facts they (or most of the left 'leaders' at any rate) seem uninterested in acknowledging.  I speak mainly and specifically of the central issue underlying every economic problem in the world today - the simple fact that for the last 35 years we have allowed private banks to create virtually our entire money supply, with next to no (real) government regulation. All else follows.

This comment of Panich - '...That can't happen unless the portion of the surplus, if I can use that term, that passes through the financial system and gives us the funds for credit in...' - indicates to me that he either does not understand that private banks create our money, or it's something he does not wish to talk about - either way, he needs, along with pretty much every other 'person of influence' on the mainstream left, to wake up. It's not 'surplus' which gives us funds for credit, credit is created out of thin air by banks punching numbers into computers - and when our entire money supply is created as debt by private banks, and they expect interest on that money every year - well, it is a matter of great puzzlement to me how so few people seem to understand the problems with this (problems for 'we the people', that is to say - it's obviously a pretty great system for the few who control it ..). There is, of course, an alternative - a democratically controlled money supply created debt-free - which, of course, would kick capitalism square in the nuts, so it's obvious why their mainstream media don't want to go anywhere near this idea - by why leading influential 'lefties' refuse to go there, since it is not at all a difficult idea to grasp - well, it makes one wonder, at times, if there isn't a bit of change being passed around in plain brown envelopes.

I won't get into it here - but I write about it at some length here, with more explanation as to exactly why allowing banks to create our money leads to the current type of situation - What Happened? http://www.rudemacedon.ca/what-happened.html .

Talking about ways to negotiate for workers etc to have a bit more free time and other 'demands' we can make of our capitalist masters to try and ease the tightness of the chains a bit is really completely in line with the old 'rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic' analogy - and certainly everything said in this piece has nothing whatsoever to do with the 'new ideas' they say are necessary. It's not 'new ideas' that are needed - it's waking up. And I fear I am in some agreement with Ryan here - any kind of mass waking up - after 100 years of increasingly sophisticated mass indoctrination - isn't looking very likely these days. I keep fighting - but it's hard not to very seriously consider the idea that they have, indeed, won. Next stop - feudalism redux (new essay coming soon, for those who are capable of thinking beyond what their 'leaders' tell them is ok to think ...)

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

"The Statue of Liberty is Kaput!" Who said that?

Fidel

I think Ryan may not realize the scope of the crisis of neoliberalism today. And it's not just one crisis or one over-inflated bubble but a number of them. I think that they believe the conservative right and centre-right are going to regain their former electoral glory of phony-majority support just as soon as the North American and western world economies come out of this swan dive. It won't happen without a major overhaul of the financial system. Liberals/Liberal democrats and Conservatives and Republican conservatives in power or phony opposition are going to face crisis after crisis until such time as a new international monetary deal. There will be no inflating their way out of it this time. It's finished. Kaput. As in game over insert another loonie and no more false economies to buy voter support with. There will be no more sweetener added to the neoliberal kool aid. Their lawnmowers have been running on ginger ale all along, wink-wink say no more eh.

Fidel

I edited to address Ryan and not N.B. I'm not too sure of what N.B. thinks about the current crisis except to let us know perhaps that the NDP deserve the usual 20 lashes and no soup.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

hah! Your rambling missive makes perfect sense now! No, really! All this talk of socialism really needs to stop. The NDP is the way and the light.

Well, at least the light does reflect off the shiny head of the great, moustached helmsman anyway. Hell, yea! And what was that about NDP soup? Please Sir, I want some more! etc.

Fidel

Meanwhile, back at the ranch... our colonial administrativeship in Ottawa continues handing the country over to rich Americanos, banks and money speculators.

Hey let's go throw eggs at "the moustache" who has a shiny head. And if we throw rotten eggs, it should really get things rolling for the proles.

Ryan1812 Ryan1812's picture

[quote=Fidel]

I think Ryan may not realize the scope of the crisis of neoliberalism today. And it's not just one crisis or one over-inflated bubble but a number of them. I think that they believe the conservative right and centre-right are going to regain their former electoral glory of phony-majority support just as soon as the North American and western world economies come out of this swan dive. It won't happen without a major overhaul of the financial system. Liberals/Liberal democrats and Conservatives and Republican conservatives in power or phony opposition are going to face crisis after crisis until such time as a new international monetary deal. There will be no inflating their way out of it this time. It's finished. Kaput. As in game over insert another loonie and no more false economies to buy voter support with. There will be no more sweetener added to the neoliberal kool aid. Their lawnmowers have been running on ginger ale all along, wink-wink say no more eh.

[/quote]

 

I'm sorry Fidel but as much as I'd like to believe I just don't see it. Believe me, I never want to be the one defending neoliberalism. However, it's stranglehold over the world and the continuing domination of transnational corporations that continue to function outside of sub-continental jurisdictions, is far from over. We've had recession, and the state will always turn to periods of socialism to alleviate the problems. Yes the US will bounce back and yes, maybe a new monetary policy will need to be put in place. But needing and actually happening in the political world infrequently meet. Who's to say that a shift will change. The list of billionaires keeps going up, people keep getting richer while the LDC's and DC's suffer. I don't see the change. I hate with a passion Thomas Flannagan but his theory of incrementalism is something that I hold near and dear to my heart, just twisted for a leftist. I will change the things I can, because I KNOW the world will not change for me.

Jacob Richter

[quote=siamdave]
This comment of Panich - '...That can't happen unless the portion of the surplus, if I can use that term, that passes through the financial system and gives us the funds for credit in...' - indicates to me that he either does not understand that private banks create our money, or it's something he does not wish to talk about - either way, he needs, along with pretty much every other 'person of influence' on the mainstream left, to wake up. It's not 'surplus' which gives us funds for credit, credit is created out of thin air by banks punching numbers into computers - and when our entire money supply is created as debt by private banks, and they expect interest on that money every year - well, it is a matter of great puzzlement to me how so few people seem to understand the problems with this (problems for 'we the people', that is to say - it's obviously a pretty great system for the few who control it ..). There is, of course, an alternative - a democratically controlled money supply created debt-free - which, of course, would kick capitalism square in the nuts, so it's obvious why their mainstream media don't want to go anywhere near this idea - by why leading influential 'lefties' refuse to go there, since it is not at all a difficult idea to grasp - well, it makes one wonder, at times, if there isn't a bit of change being passed around in plain brown envelopes. [/quote]

Some leftists have gone there though:

http://www.revleft.com/vb/nationalising-banksi-t137695/index.html

[b]Financial National-Democratization[/b]

"Even the [i]Financial Times[/i] now warns in its editorials that it may not be possible to avoid much longer the issue of really taking the whole banking system into public ownership, given its current dysfunctionality. Indeed, there has long been a strong case for turning the banks into a public utility, given that they can't exist in complex modern society without states guaranteeing their deposits and central banks constantly acting as lenders of last resort." (Leo Panitch)

It is interesting to note the market-socialist David Schweickart referred to and approved of the same editorial alluded to by Leo Panitch, one by Willem Buiter, a professor of European political economy at the London School of Economics and the former head of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.  [i]In The end of American capitalism as we knew it[/i], Buiter wrote:

[i]Is the reality of the modern, transactions-oriented model of financial capitalism indeed that large private firms make enormous private profits when the going is good and get bailed out and taken into temporary public ownership when the going gets bad, with the taxpayer taking the risk and the losses?

If so, then why not keep these activities in permanent public ownership?  [b]There is a long-standing argument that there is no real case for private ownership of deposit-taking banking institutions, because these cannot exist safely without a deposit guarantee and/or lender of last resort facilities, that are ultimately underwritten by the taxpayer.[/b]

Even where private deposit insurance exists, this is only sufficient to handle bank runs on a subset of the banks in the system.  Private banks collectively cannot self-insure against a generalised run on the banks.  Once the state underwrites the deposits or makes alternative funding available as lender of last resort, deposit-based banking is a license to print money.

That suggests that either deposit-banking licenses should be periodically auctioned off competitively or that deposit-taking banks should be in public ownership to ensure that the taxpayer gets the rents as well as the risks.  [b]The argument that financial intermediation cannot be entrusted to the private sector can now be extended to include the new, transactions-oriented, capital-markets-based forms of financial capitalism.[/b][/i]

It should be noted that "bank runs on a subset of the banks in the system" vs. "generalized run on the banks" refers to fractional reserve banking; banks keep only a fraction of deposits in highly liquid reserves, lend out the rest, all the while being legally obligated to redeem all deposits upon customer demand.  For all the rhetoric by Milton Friedman, the rest of the Chicago School, the Austrian School further to their right, and other right-wing economists on fractional reserve banking as the main culprit behind debt bubbles, they miss the point: [b]under the present financial system, the amount of public control over M0, M1, M2, and the entire money supply generally is almost non-existent[/b].  A national-democratized financial monopoly beyond even the limitations of the former [i]Gosbank SSSR[/i] (USSR State Bank), along with the extension of this public monopoly on money supply control into the general provision of commercial and consumer credit, is the only way towards achieving at least substantive public control over the money supply.  It is also the only way to make substantive inroads against the massive behemoth of derivatives trading.

In early 2009, political economist Paulo L dos Santos went further in addressing the appropriate purchase prices based on the market capitalization of these financial institutions, particularly those in trouble:

[i]There is a simple, rational alternative that needs urgent public discussion.  Expropriate the banks - or, for those partial to more diplomatic language, [b]nationalise them at the market prices that would prevail had the public not poured hundreds of billions into them[/b].  Then run the banks under the sole imperative of stabilising the financial system and paving the way for economic recovery, with no constraints imposed by the need to attract private capital or maintain future private franchise value.

Expropriation would lower the fiscal impact of state intervention.  [b]It would also curb the massive hoarding currently taking place as banks try to build up capitalisation levels.[/b]  State banks could maintain lower capital reserves - after all, the only thing maintaining public confidence in the solvency of banks are state guarantees.  This would allow additional room for credit creation, and render recent interest rate cuts effective.

State banks would also be able to provide relief on the debts currently saddling many households, helping provide a welcome boost to aggregate demand.  [b]Lastly, state banks could curb the more egregious practices of private banks: exorbitant account, overdraft and transaction fees; interest rates on credit to households; gains made on trading and own accounts at the expense of retail savers; and, of course, bonuses.

These measures are unlikely to be taken by currently dominant political forces[/b], even though such policies are neither socialist nor in themselves steps towards socialism.  [b]They are just rational attempts to stop the current economic bloodletting.[/b]  Economic recovery will require taking on the long-term systemic economic imbalances that conditioned the current meltdown.  Those include falling real investment by non-financial corporations, mediocre productivity growth, growing private provision of pensions, health and education, and rising inequality.  Addressing those issues will require significant socialist inroads into the functioning of the economy and dramatic political changes.  They also require an integrated, long-term understanding of the current crisis and secular developments in the real economy.  Stay tuned.[/i]

Many have tried to contrast the role of financial capital with that of the older industrial capital, usually by resorting to some form of ethics.  Keynes himself openly distinguished between the "entrepreneur" and the "capitalist" (financiers, short-sellers of shares and similar speculators in derivatives and currency exchange, etc.), but the market-socialist David Schweickart made the most obvious point in his book [i]Against Capitalism[/i] about the system inherently joining the two:

[i]It is true that some capitalists innovate, reorganize, and manage, but [b]it is also true that many do not[/b].  This fact, if not its ethical implications, is acknowledged by most economists; it is reflected, for example, in the standard distinction between interest and profit.  Profit is the residual accruing to the entrepreneurial after wage, rental, and interest accounts have been paid.

[b]The basic problem for one trying to justify capitalism (noncomparatively) is precisely this category: interest, a return that requires neither risk nor entrepreneurial activity on the part of the recipient.

Time preference need not enter into the explanation of the capitalist's behavior any more than the entrepreneur's.[/b]  If Marx and Weber are right, the motivational structure for the paradigmatic capitalist is accumulation, not consumption.  Moneymaking becomes an end in itself.  [b]The capitalist qua capitalist invests now not to have more to consume later but to have more to invest later.[/b]  As Marx puts it, "Accumulate, accumulate.  That is Moses and the prophets."[/i]

One last aspect of financial national-democratization should be touched upon, and indeed it is about an ethical position as much as it is about the numerical difference between assets and liabilities: equity.  In several pre-industrial societies, there were taboos against charging interest on loans or - to use an older word - usury.  There were also equitable rules on secured loans.  For example, Exodus 22:25-27, Deuteronomy 23:20-21, and rabbinical literature prohibit the charging of interest to Israelites (except when a life is in danger) as well as the using for loan security items needed by the poor among them to survive (garments needed by the poor among them to survive cold nights or flour-making millstones, but other items are implied as well) - quite a contrast to the Catholic-imposed privilege of charging usury enjoyed by medieval Jewish usurers but for the convenient purpose of anti-Semitic scapegoating later on, and certainly a contrast to the financial practices of modern Israeli society!  Meanwhile, the anti-usury Islamic finance has a Sumerian precedent which could be applied today, free of pork and alcohol limitations and applied especially towards venture (read: vulture) capital activities: agreements between the [I]de facto[/I] creditor and the [I]de facto[/I] debtor whereby the latter would manage the new business venture and the former would invest in the business venture, assuming typical business risk to income stability but deriving income in the form of profits.  [b]To revisit what Santos discussed above, a national-democratized financial monopoly should be more than capable of absorbing, say, the higher risk to income stability posed by small cooperatives or small-business proprietorships as it effectively nationalizes those debtors' operations in the financing agreements - only to effectively re-privatize them as equitable profits (and not interest) due the monopoly reduce that monopoly's ownership positions.[/b]

 

[left][b]REFERENCES[/b]

 

[i]From the global crisis to Canada's crisis[/i] by Leo Panitch [[url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081203.wcopanitch04...

[i]The end of American capitalism as we knew it[/i] by Willem Buiter [[url=http://blogs.ft.com/maverecon/2008/09/the-end-of-american-capitalism-as-...

[i]Bank expropriation is rational, but neither socialist nor sufficient[/i] by Paulo L dos Santos [[url=http://political-finance.blogspot.com/2009/01/bank-expropriation-is-rati...

[i]Against Capitalism[/i] by David Schweickart [[url=http://books.google.com/books?id=A_0afomkjQYC&printsec=frontcover&source...

siamdave

These guys still haven't got the light turned on, although they're at least looking. This quote - "..banks keep only a fraction of deposits in highly liquid reserves, lend out the rest, all the while being legally obligated to redeem all deposits upon customer demand.." - indicates they still do not understand what happens. Banks do not take deposits, and lend some of the deposited money out. They simply create new deposits out of thin air when someone takes out a loan.

And nationalizing 'the banks' is not what is required - it's something of a red herring - the key is to stop banks from creating our money supply and charging interest on it - no private citizens should have that power. Banks that function like 'savings and loans' places are meant to function are fine - properly regulated. No money creation power.

The rest gets into a long story, but people need to rethink the whole idea of money - right now, it is a weapon used by the wealthy to control the citizens. It should be seen more as a controlled pool of credit which is accessible by any citizen, with, of course, appropriate safeguards. I'm working on a longer essay which I'll post when finished.

Fidel

[quote=Ryan1812]Yes the US will bounce back and yes, maybe a new monetary policy will need to be put in place. But needing and actually happening in the political world infrequently meet. Who's to say that a shift will change. The list of billionaires keeps going up, people keep getting richer while the LDC's and DC's suffer. I don't see the change.[/quote]

I know what you mean about more billionaires and more concentration of wealth. But it's finished. Speculators and financial crooks are feeding off a dead corpse. The EU is bankrupt and so is Wall Street. It's finished. It's just a matter of time before people catch on and start protesting globally. The neoliberal experiment lasted about as long as laissez-faire capitalism did in North America by 1929. It's kaput. As Nicholos Sarkozy said about "le laissez-faire"(neoliberalism) to the Americans and Brits in '08, "C'est fini!"

What we need the left needs now is the same as it needed before WWI and WW II, which is a united front. A united front of greens and social democrats, Marxists and liberals, and even democratically minded conservative voters, have to get it together and oppose fascism. Look what they did to Italy, In the 1920s and 30s, Italy was home to one of the strongest left wing contngents in the world. They had Marxists and socialists, communists, liberals and social democrats. But they failed to unite because of infighting and their own damned stupidity, and not to mention the fascists supported by the west and working behind the scenes. Berlusconi is wading in corruption charges and general incompetence. They aren't even worried about it, because they know that some fascist bastard is waiting in the wings to takeover from where the Italian billionaire leaves off, and likely a fascist lineage from Mussolini, like Gianfranco Fini. The same is true in the US, they have elections bought and paid-for for the next several decades. The left must unite under one banner. The only real opposition to fascism is socialism.

Viva la revolucion!

Jacob Richter

Siamdave, that was an article written by me personally.  I didn't give the usual credit of "By So-And-So" for a reason.  So, according to you, I "haven't got the light turned on." Wink

The creation of new deposits occurs in some sort of band in compliance with fractional reserve rules.

"And nationalizing 'the banks' is not what is required"? Yes it is. It's the only way to have real public control over the money supply. I look forward to your essay, though.

Fidel

Great essay, Jacob Richter. Nationalise the banks! And we are part of the way there already as the Bank of Canada is still nationalised. Our stooges simply don't use it for its intended purposes.

George Victor

And here I thought that CMHC took on $62 billion of Canadian bank mortgages to give the banks the necessary liquidity to go on lending. 

Fidel

I heard from someone that there are 50 year mortgages in Calgary and Alberta. That's insane.

siamdave

[quote=Jacob Richter]

Siamdave, that was an article written by me personally.  I didn't give the usual credit of "By So-And-So" for a reason.  So, according to you, I "haven't got the light turned on." Wink

The creation of new deposits occurs in some sort of band in compliance with fractional reserve rules.

"And nationalizing 'the banks' is not what is required"? Yes it is. It's the only way to have real public control over the money supply. I look forward to your essay, though.

[/quote] -

- not looking for a quarrel, but to say the banks take in, say, a million in deposits, and then (are allowed to) loan out ~900 thou of that is not how it works. Even with the theoretical 'reserve' system, that million becomes the base - and they are allowed to **create** another ~ten million on top of that in debt out of thin air. And the reserve requirements are pretty indefinite - I know Mulroney removed a lot if not all of the reserve requirements in 91 or something like that, but the vast asset inflation bubbles we regularaly see are pretty much proof positive that whatever 'controls' are in place are much more theoretical than real.

And I don't think we need to nationalize all banks - what we need to do is have one national bank which creates and controls the credit/money supply - it may be that only this national bank turns out to be the only bank in the country with branches everywhere - or perhaps private banks could be allowed, but they would operate as they are supposed to operate - they can only loan a fraction of the money they actually have on deposit, and not create any new money. It's a detail that can be worked out - as long as people understand that currently these private banks actually create almost all of our money supply, and that is what is at the root of all of our problems.

I'll let you know when the essay is done ....

Fidel

Excellent comments, SiamDave.

Jacob Richter

Siam, what's wrong with a fully national-democratized banking monopoly doing the exact same thing ("creating money out of thin air")?  Please don't tell me you subscribe to the Austrian critique of fractional reserve banking.

siamdave

[quote=Jacob Richter]

Siam, what's wrong with a fully national-democratized banking monopoly doing the exact same thing ("creating money out of thin air")?  Please don't tell me you subscribe to the Austrian critique of fractional reserve banking.

[/quote]

It's not the 'creating money out of thin air' that's a problem, it's allowing this money to be created and controlled by private individuals, and charging interest on it, that is the first part of the problem. I go into this in some detail in the essay, and won't repeat it all here - but the systemic inflation we have experienced the last 30 years, essentially halving the purchasing power of the average income, is a direct result, as are the massive government debts upon which we have paid a couple of trillion in interest in Canada alone, and which are used as the basis of robbing us blind and cutting every program of use to the average citizen.

The second part of the problem is that there is no effective regulation on the creation of the money by private banks - sure there are 'regulations' of various sorts, but as I noted earlier, the meltdown of the entire global financial system due to massive overcreation of credit recently shows pretty clearly that the regulations are a lot of show and no substance. Not surprising - politics attracts venal people, and the people with the money long ago figured out the best investment of all was in purchasing governments. Second most important investment is the media, to control what the people are told about what is happening. Mushroomland. 

The whole idea of money needs to be rethought, and that is what I am doing in the coming-soon essay. But you can get a pretty good idea of where I'm coming from in the What Happened essay - http://www.rudemacedon.ca/what-happened.html . For starters. Any comments on problems with my ideas in that essay would be welcome.

I'll let the comment on the Austrian school pass - it's obvious you have not read the essay, or you'd know better.

Ryan1812 Ryan1812's picture

[quote=Jacob Richter]

Siamdave, that was an article written by me personally.  I didn't give the usual credit of "By So-And-So" for a reason.  So, according to you, I "haven't got the light turned on." Wink

The creation of new deposits occurs in some sort of band in compliance with fractional reserve rules.

"And nationalizing 'the banks' is not what is required"? Yes it is. It's the only way to have real public control over the money supply. I look forward to your essay, though.

[/quote]

I look to any new essays to sink my teeth into. Where can I find your essay so I can peruse it?

Jacob Richter

[quote=siamdave]It's not the 'creating money out of thin air' that's a problem, it's allowing this money to be created and controlled by private individuals, and charging interest on it, that is the first part of the problem. I go into this in some detail in the essay, and won't repeat it all here[/quote]

I'll read it and post in on other boards for discussion.

[quote]The second part of the problem is that there is no effective regulation on the creation of the money by private banks - sure there are 'regulations' of various sorts, but as I noted earlier, the meltdown of the entire global financial system due to massive overcreation of credit recently shows pretty clearly that the regulations are a lot of show and no substance.[/quote]

I have noted that too, but what's wrong with dusting the Gosbank SSSR books off from the shelf for how to control the money supply?

[quote]The whole idea of money needs to be rethought, and that is what I am doing in the coming-soon essay. But you can get a pretty good idea of where I'm coming from in the What Happened essay - http://www.rudemacedon.ca/what-happened.html . For starters. Any comments on problems with my ideas in that essay would be welcome.

I'll let the comment on the Austrian school pass - it's obvious you have not read the essay, or you'd know better.[/quote]

You didn't link to your essay earlier.  Otherwise, I stand corrected re. my Austrian remark. Tongue out

siamdave

[quote=Jacob Richter]

You didn't link to your essay earlier.  Otherwise, I stand corrected re. my Austrian remark. Tongue out

[/quote]

-actually, for you and RYan above (40), I mentioned it with a link when I first posted here, # 22 ....

 

(also, re the Gosbank, although I am quite widely read, I think, in monetary supply stuff, this is the first I have heard of this - do you know where I might find a useful article on how it regulates (or regulated - I would imagine anything not worshipping the capitalist 'right' to create and control money (the Austrian 'school' market idea) would not be tolerated in the wonderful new capitalist Russia ...) the money supply? Always open to useful new input ... )

Jacob Richter

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gosbank

Gosbank (Russian: Госбанк, Государственный банк СССР, Gosudarstvenny bank SSSR-the USSR State Bank) was the central bank of the Soviet Union and the only bank whatsoever in the entire Union from the 1930s until the year 1987. Gosbank was one of the three Soviet economic authorities, the other two being "Gosplan" (the State Planning Committee) and "Gossnab" (the State Committee for Material Technical Supply).

The Soviet state used Gosbank, primarily, as a tool to impose centralized control upon industry in general, using bank balances and transaction histories to monitor the activity of individual concerns and their compliance with Plans and directives. Gosbank did not act as a commercial bank in regard to the profit motive. It acted, theoretically, as an instrument of government policy.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sberkassa

In the Soviet Union the system of "State Labour Saving Offices" (государственная трудовая сберегательная касса) was instituted in 1922. The first was opened in February 1923, in Petrograd.

Eventually, Soviet sberkassas were outlets of the only Soviet bank, USSR State Bank, or Gosbank until 1988 and Sberbank (USSR Savings Bank) after the "perestroika" of the Soviet bank system.

Additional functions included accepting various payments, e.g., for public utilities or fines, and depositing salaries.

Since the system of consumer credit was virtually absent in the Soviet Union, in order to make a major purchase an ordinary Soviet citizen had to save for a long time. Therefore, like postal savings systems in other countries, the system of sberkassas was a form of government debt, a system where the Soviet state borrowed from the population.

siamdave

- my first objection would be that anything I talk about is based on the idea of (real) democracy - the old USSR was quite obviously centrally planned and controlled, little different from centrally planned and controlled western so-called democracies. I also suspect that those leading the USSR money-credit situation were, as is done in the west, using control of the means of exchange as a way of controlling the citizens, as is done in the west also. What we need to work towards is a money-credit system that is in place not for control of the citizens, but which functions as simply a true and democratic 'money' to enable us all to do our work and make the desired transactions in a complex society. I'm working on expanding this idea, but it's really pretty out of the box thinking - and a central component, as I keep stressing, is democracy, and we have never had the kind of actual democracy that would allow this, so in itself this is something most people do not really grok. It's really kind of an interlinked thing - real democracy, money for the benefit of us all not control, and a free media working for the people rather than indoctrinating them - these are the minimum requirements, and to put it on paper makes one realise how truly an almost impossible idea it is in capitalist-tvland with a dumbed down citizenry that thinks Survivor is great and political economics boring. But you gotta do something with your time.

 

 

NorthReport

It's only a problem if you are the borrower. Sounds pretty good for the lenders.

Rich people lend money, and poor people borrow money.

Want to get rid of poverty? How about we abolish interest rates for a start?

[quote=Fidel]

I heard from someone that there are 50 year mortgages in Calgary and Alberta. That's insane.

[/quote]

Jacob Richter

[quote=siamdave]- my first objection would be that anything I talk about is based on the idea of (real) democracy - the old USSR was quite obviously centrally planned and controlled, little different from centrally planned and controlled western so-called democracies. I also suspect that those leading the USSR money-credit situation were, as is done in the west, using control of the means of exchange as a way of controlling the citizens, as is done in the west also.[/quote]

I did say "A national-democratized financial monopoly beyond even the limitations of the former Gosbank SSSR (USSR State Bank)" for a reason. Nationalization by the current state apparatus isn't enough, and I'm sure Gosbank had its administrative limitations. Nevertheless, the idea is to unite the functions of central banking, retail banking, and investment banking all under one banking monopoly.

siamdave

[quote=Jacob Richter]

[I did say "A national-democratized financial monopoly beyond even the limitations of the former Gosbank SSSR (USSR State Bank)"

[/quote]

- I missed that one, I was responding to "..but what's wrong with dusting the Gosbank SSSR books off from the shelf for how to control the money supply?.."

Jacob Richter

I should also note that the second part of my commentary has to do with "equity not usury."  Perhaps you can comment on that, as well.

Ryan1812 Ryan1812's picture

I'm very novice when it comes to monetary policy, only really knowing about the history of Bretten Woods, the goald standard but not understanding underlying ecnomic theory. Am I wrong in assuming that if we suddenly nationalized our monetary system that investors would react fearfully and start pulling out of our economy fearing the state apparatus is getting too involved?

siamdave

[quote=Ryan1812]

I'm very novice when it comes to monetary policy, only really knowing about the history of Bretten Woods, the goald standard but not understanding underlying ecnomic theory. Am I wrong in assuming that if we suddenly nationalized our monetary system that investors would react fearfully and start pulling out of our economy fearing the state apparatus is getting too involved?

[/quote]

- can't say for sure, but that would likely be the general reaction - although 'fear' wouldn't really be the operative word, although of course that is what the mainstream media would label it - the operative word would be closer to 'rage', and the entire western bank-dominated world would join together to hammer the upstarts into the dust. I expect.  If we ever were to gain the kind of power to attempt such a thing as a nationalized bank and control of the money supply, we would have to be very prepared for this kind of thing. As a fairly prosperous and strong country, we would have at least a fighting chance, I think, if we were prepared - remember, we would only be fighting 'governments' as controlled by the bankers, and the media - most citizens of these countries would be sympathetic, I think, if we could manage to get to them through the proaganda blitz of the mainstream media.

 

Another film of interest - Oh Canada - http://www.ohcanadamovie.com/

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