Interview with Michael D. Yates: The ABCs of the Economic Crisis

Allen Ruff: What do working people need to know about this current economic crisis?

Michael D. Yates: The first thing you need to know is that these kinds of crisis are built into the economic system.   There’s really I don’t think any way to avoid them.  Now, they’re gonna vary in terms of the degrees of seriousness, and this is a particularly serious one, but should the economy get back on track a little bit, should we begin to experience a 3-4% growth rate and moderation of unemployment, that’s not gonna last indefinitely.  Sooner or later there will be another crisis.  Given the way the government is responding to this one, probably sooner rather than later.  The second thing that working people need to know is that the government as it is currently structured is not on their side.  It does not care about their wellbeing or welfare, and its response to the economic crisis has been to give hundreds of billions of dollars to the very people who generated the crisis in the first place, setting the stage for continued inequality in wealth and income, continued inequality in political power, setting the stage for a new economic crisis.  So I think those are the two main things.  And the third thing of course is just as main: working people got to get organized collectively.  The labor movement as it is currently structured is not about to do that.

Michael D. Yates is associate editor of Monthly Review and editorial director of Monthly Review Press.  He is also author of Cheap Motels and a Hotplate: An Economist’s Travelogue (Monthly Review Press, 2007), Naming the System: Inequality and Work in the Global Economy (Monthly Review Press, 2003), Why Unions Matter (Monthly Review Press, 1st Edition published in 1999, new edition published in May 2009), In and Out of the Working Class (Arbeiter Ring, 2009), and co-author (with Fred Magdoff) of The ABCs of the Economic Crisis: What Working People Need to Know among many other books and articles.  Allen Ruff is an activist, historian, and writer.  This program originally aired on WORT 89.9 FM and streamed at  The text above is a partial transcript of the interview.  See, also, Fred Magdoff and Michael D. Yates, “What Needs to Be Done: A Socialist View” (Monthly Review, November 2009.

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