POLITICAL ECONOMY 

Aaron Benanav, Gavin Mueller, and Jason Smith, “Technology, Automation, and Socialist Strategy”

Science & Society | April 04, 2021

The sixth talk of the Science & Society Online Speaker Series. Please visit Science & Society at: scienceandsociety.com Or, write to us at: info@scienceandsociety.com —- Science & Society does not adhere to any particular school of Marxism. The viewpoints expressed by the speaker do not necessarily represent S&S’s editorial perspective.

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U.S. ECONOMY

The sugar rush economy

Michael Roberts Blog | March 21, 2021

Last week the US Federal Reserve raised its growth forecasts for the US economy for this year and next. Fed officials now reckon the US economy with expand in real terms by 6.5%, the fastest pace since 1984, a few years after the slump of 1980-2.  This is a significant rise from the Fed’s previous forecast.  Also, the unemployment rate is expected to drop to just 4.5% by year-end, while the inflation rate ticks up to 2.2%, above the official target rate set by the Fed.Read More »

POLITICAL ECONOMY 

The Drain of Wealth

Colonialism before the First World War

Utsa Patnaik and Prabhat Patnaik

Monthly Review | Volume 72, Issue 08 (January 2021)

British Indian Empire

British Indian Empire, “Political Map of the Indian Empire, 1893” from Constable’s Hand Atlas of India, London: Archibald Constable and Sons, 1893. Link.
The Western European powers appropriated economic surplus from their colonies, and this materially and substantially aided their own industrial transition from the eighteenth century onward, as well as the diffusion of capitalism to the regions of new European settlement. In the literature on economic growth, however, we find little awareness of the existence of such transfers, let alone their sheer scale, or the specific real and financial mechanisms through which these transfers were effected. Much research still remains to be done in this area. In the case of India, however, for well over a century there has been a rich discussion on transfers, termed the drain of wealth, initiated by two outstanding writers, Dadabhai Naoroji and R. C. Dutt.1 Here, we confine ourselves to discussing transfers only in the context of India.

With few exceptions, the literature on the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century industrial transition in the core countries ignores the drain of wealth, or transfers, from the colonies.2 The mainstream interpretation posits a purely internal dynamic for the rise of capitalist industrialization, and some authors even suggest that the colonies were a burden on the metropolis, which would have been better off without them.Read More »

ECONOMICS 

Mission Impossible

Michael Robert’s Blog | February 20, 2021

Italian-American economist, Mariana Mazzucato, who works and resides in London, has become a big name in what we might call ‘centre-left’ or even in mainstream economic and political circles.  She has a new book out, Mission Economy: a moonshot guide to changing capitalism.

Mazzucato was briefly an economic adviser to the UK Labour Party under Corbyn and McDonnell; she apparently “has the ear” of radical Congress representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; she advised Democratic presidential hopeful, Senator Elizabeth Warren and also Scottish Nationalist leader Nicola Sturgeon.  She was even accorded the title of “the world’s scariest economist because her ideas were apparently really shaking up things among the great and good.  According to the London Times newspaper, “admired by Bill Gates, consulted by governments, Mariana Mazzucato is the expert others argue with at their peril”.Read More »

CLASS POLITICS 

Whose Crisis, Which?

Farooque Chowdhury

Frontier | Vol. 53, No. 22-25, Nov 29 – Dec 26, 2020

Crises deluge this region considered a sub-continent in Asia. The questions are:
(1)   Which crises?
(2)   Whose crises are these?
(3)   At which stage are these crises?

A question, also, encounters a part of the progressives: Are the endeavours for a revolutionary change going through a crisis?

The first three questions–which and whose, and which stage–help find out answer to the question related to revolutionary change.Read More »

BEATING WALL STREET 

Stop The Game – I Want to Get Off!

Michael Roberts Blog | January 28, 2021

‘Hedging’ used to be a way of reducing the risk of selling or buying.  Farmers waiting for their harvest to come in are uncertain about what price per bushel they will get at the market: will they get a price that makes them a profit and a living for next year or will they be made destitute?  To reduce that risk, hedge companies offer to buy the harvest in advance at a fixed price.  The farmer is guaranteed a price and income whatever the price per bushel at the time of going to market.  The hedge fund takes the risk that it can make a profit by buying the harvest at a price below the eventual market price.  In this way, ‘hedging’ can smooth out the volatility in prices, often very high in agricultural and mineral sectors.Read More »

REVIEWING POLITICAL ECONOMICS ISSUES OF 2020

Top Ten Posts of 2020

Michael Roberts’ Blog | December 23, 2020

As usual at this time of the year, it’s the annual stock take for this blog.  This year there have been 670,000 hits on the blog to date.  That’s up 45% on 2019, another record!  That may not match the millions that hit the sites of mainstream economists but it’s not bad for a Marxist.

I began this blog back over ten years ago.  Over those ten years, I have posted 957 times with over three and half million viewings. There are currently 5,300 regular followers of the blog and 10,250 followers of the Michael Roberts Facebook site, which I started six years ago.  On the Facebook site, I put short daily items of information or comment on economics and economic events.Read More »

GIG ECONOMY 

A New World of Workers: Confronting the Gig Economy

Michelle Chen

Vol 56: Socialist Register 2020

Dystopian photograph peering down the long hallway of an abandoned building full of debris.

Abstract

No, we won’t all be ‘replaced’ by machines, but we will likely cede some ownership of our communities, privacy, public space, and economic and political clout. And while there will be jobs to do even in our digitally-dominated future, if workers fail to seize the means of producing that future, they risk becoming reduced to its by-product. To avoid this will require redrawing the frontlines of labour struggle and forging new pathways of social advancement. Although, as an official occupational category, gig work per se currently constitutes a relatively small slice of the workforce even in the most developed economies, there is no doubt that it is growing exponentially. And while this surge is inevitable, labour must expand on what so many are already demanding of the ‘on-demand’ economy – fair work, equity, and human rights, on and off the platform. Ultimately, the most effective way to tackle the labour abuses endemic in the gig economy may be organizing workers for sustained militant action, be it in the form of a global crowdworkers’ guild, or an app-based collective-bargaining agreement. But gig economy jobs have abstracted the traditional role of the employer and employee into a triangular transaction among user, client, and platform. So how do you mobilize workers to fight the man, when the man is an algorithm?Read More »