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Author Archive | Richard D. Wolff

The Political Economy of Austerity Now

Government austerity for the masses (raising taxes and cutting public services) is becoming the issue shaping politics in western Europe, north America, and Japan.  In the US, austerity turned millions away from the polls where before they supported an Obama who promised changes from such policies.  So Republicans will control Congress and conflicts over austerity […]

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Socialism and Workers’ Self-Directed Enterprises

​Global capitalism has huge problems coping with the second worst collapse in its history. Its extreme and deepening inequalities have provoked millions to question and challenge capitalism. Yet socialists of all sorts now find it more difficult than ever to make effective criticisms and offer alternatives that inspire. Part of the problem lies with classic […]

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Capitalism, Democracy, and Elections

Capitalism and real democracy never had much to do with one another.  In contrast, formal voting in elections has worked nicely for capitalism.  After all, elections have rarely posed, let alone decided, the question of capitalism: whether voters prefer it or an alternative economic system.  Capitalists have successfully kept elections focused elsewhere, on non-systemic questions […]

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Economic Development and Rana Plaza

The official death toll from the April collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which housed clothing factories, has now passed 1,100.  How exactly will the staggering costs of that overwhelming tragedy be figured?  Will they count as part of capitalism’s contribution to economic development across Asia, Africa, and Latin America? In capitalism’s […]

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The Truth About Profits and Austerity

The Truth About Profits and Austerity

The truth about profits in the US is simple.  Ed Dolan’s recent piece in Seeking Alpha contains a graph that makes it all too clear. First, it’s clear that profits as a percentage of total US GDP have recovered from the crash of 2008.  Unemployment may still be over 50% higher than it was in […]

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Capitalism Becomes Questionable

The depth and length of the global crisis are now clear to millions.  In the sixth year since it started in late 2007, no end is in sight.  Unemployment rates are now less than halfway back from their recession peak to where they were in 2007.  Over 20 million are without work, millions more limited […]

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62 Percent of Cuts in Ryan Plan Come From Low-Income Programs

Choosing Ryan, Embracing Austerity

Whatever electoral calculations drove Mitt Romney to choose Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential running mate, the choice also has a deeper meaning.  Ryan’s arrival at the top of the Republican Party represents the rise of the most vocal and visible proponent of austerity in US politics today.  Ryan represents the US parallel to the regimes […]

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What Capitalism Delivers

Most Presidents preside over one or more capitalist downturns (recessions, depressions, crises, etc.).  Every President since at least FDR generated a “program” to respond to the downturn — as demanded by citizens and businesses.  FDR and every later President promised that his program would “not only extricate the US from the present economic troubles but […]

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Europe’s Debt Crisis Deepens

Over the weekend, Fitch — the major rating company that, with its fellow majors, Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s, dominate the business of assessing the riskiness of debt instruments — took a highly publicized step.  It downgraded the credit-worthiness of the sovereign debts of many European countries.  What a spectacle!  These rating companies were distinguished […]

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Occupy Production

As the Occupy movement keeps developing, it seeks solutions for the economic and political dysfunctions it exposes and opposes.  For many, the capitalist economic system itself is the basic problem.  They want change to another system, but not to the traditional socialist alternative (e.g., USSR or China).  That system too seems to require basic change. […]

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Harvard Students Join the Movement

Over the last 10 days, Harvard students twice stopped business as usual at this richest of all US private universities.  An Occupy Harvard encampment of tents followed a large march of many hundreds through the campus protesting Harvard’s complicity in the nation’s extreme inequality of income and wealth.  A week earlier some 70 students walked […]

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Capitalism and Poverty

The US Census Bureau recently reported what most Americans already knew.  Poverty is deepening.  The gap between rich and poor is growing.  Slippage soon into the ranks of the poor now confronts tens of millions of Americans who long thought of themselves as securely “middle class.” The reality is worse than the Census Bureau reports. […]

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Austerity Politics Descends on US States

Last week, Democratic Governors in New York and Connecticut repeated the austerity politics of Greece’s Prime Minister Papandreou and Portugal’s Socrates.  In doing so, they likewise imitated the austerity politics of their Republican and Democratic counterparts across virtually all 50 states.  Austerity for labor and the public is everywhere capitalism’s Plan B.  After all, even […]

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Deficits, Debts, and Deepening Crisis

Standard and Poor’s downgrades US debt, stock markets gyrate around the world, Sarkozy and Merkel perform yet another empty summit, the Chinese and Japanese economies look worrisome.  Serious commentators worry about global recession, another global banking collapse, eurozone dissolution, and austerity programs that only make matters worse.  Nouriel Roubini, famed Professor at NYU’s Stern School […]

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