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Michael Roberts Marxist Economist

The submerging market debt crisis

Last week, Ghana’s central bank announced its biggest ever interest-rate hike as it sought to slow rampant inflation that threatens to create a debt crisis in one of West Africa’s largest economies.  The Bank of Ghana raised its main lending rate by 250 basis points to 17% as consumer inflation reached 15.7% year-on-year in February, the highest…

The end of dollar dominance?

Last summer when the US fled Afghanistan, I wrote a post on the history of US dollar dominance  I argued then that the US dollar would remain the dominant world currency for the foreseeable future, but that it was in relative decline compared to other currencies, precisely because US imperialism has been in relative decline compared to other rival…

The war on inflation

The Russian invasion of Ukraine grinds agonisingly on with more dying and displaced and with further destruction of Ukrainian cities, farms and homes.  Back in the major economies, there is another war brewing: the war on inflation.  Inflation of consumer prices are now at 30-40 year highs with more to come.  The COVID pandemic slump and now the…

Ukraine-Russia: like an earthquake

“The war in Ukraine is like a powerful earthquake that will have ripple effects throughout the global economy, especially in poor countries”.  That’s how IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva described the impact of the war on the world economy.  Nobody can be sure the magnitude of this quake but even on the most optimistic view, it is going to damage…

Eastern Europe’s demographic deficit

There has been a huge exodus of Ukrainians into neighbouring countries fleeing the war in their country- three million and counting.  Just as in Syria and in other countries engulfed by war, there has been a refugee disaster.  But this latest exodus from Ukraine adds to the millions who have already left in the last 30 years. Even before the Ukraine-Russia…

The three contradictions of the Long Depression

One of my basic theses about modern capitalism is that since 2008, the major capitalist economies have been in what I call a Long Depression.  In my book of 2016 of the same name, I distinguish between what economists call recessions or slumps in production, investment and employment; and depressions.  Under the capitalist mode of production (ie production…

Korea: from Moon to Yoon

In South Korea’s presidential election, held every five years, the conservative candidate, Yoon Suk-yeol of the People Power Party gained a narrow victory over the ‘progressive’ Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Democratic Party.  The turnout at 77.1%, high by international standards, was pretty much in line with previous elections.  The older the…

Fallen angels

In several previous posts, I have highlighted what are called ‘zombie’ companies (companies whose regular profits do not even cover the cost of servicing their outstanding debts) and so must, to paraphrase former BoE governor Mark Carney, depend on the kindness of their creditors”. An OECD study found that such zombies take up a frighteningly…

Russia: from sanctions to slump?

The economic war between the US-led NATO group and Russia is hotting up alongside the real war in Ukraine itself.  In response to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the US and Europe have upped the ante in imposing economic sanctions. The first of these was the suspension of any dealings with several leading Russian banks, including the two largest…

The wealth of nations

Marx’s first sentence in Capital Volume One is: “The wealth of those societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails, presents itself as an “immense accumulation of commodities”, its unit being a single commodity.” (Moore and Aveling translation).  So, from the beginning, Marx makes a distinction between wealth in societies…

Inflation: supply or demand?

The debate among economists continues on whether the recent hike in inflation rates in the major economies is due to a ‘supply shock’ or ‘pent-up consumer demand’; and related to that, whether the inflation rise will be ‘transient’ or ‘permanent’. Supply or demand?  If prices rise, is it because supply is not rising ‘enough’ or…

Ukraine: trapped in a war zone

As the drums of war sound for Ukraine, what will be the impact on Ukraine’s economy and the living standards of its 44m population, whether war is avoided or not?  I’ve posted on Ukraine several times before during the intense economic crisis that the country experienced in 2013-14 culminating in the collapse of incumbent government, the Maidan…

The sugar runs out

At the beginning of January, I posted my economic forecast for the world economy in 2022.  I argued that, although the major capitalist economies were likely to expand during 2022, real GDP, investment and income growth was likely to be much slower than the fast rebound in 2021 from the global pandemic slump of 2020.  Last year had seen a leap back…

The UK’s ‘economygate’

The UK prime minister Boris Johnson is currently in danger of losing his job because of the blatant flouting by him and his staff of the COVID restriction rules imposed by his own government on the rest of the British people.  But rather than ‘partygate’, the rocky road ahead for the economy and its impact on living standards for the many is much…

Portugal: Socialists on their own

Portugal’s ruling socialists under prime minister, António Costa, achieved a surprising victory in parliamentary elections on Sunday.  The Socialists gained an outright majority in the new parliament over all other parties and will be able to rule without a coalition.  The previous so-called gerigonca (contraption) coalition broke down last October…

A world rate of profit: important new evidence

Marx’s law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall (LTRPF) has either been heavily criticised or ignored as being an irrelevant explanation of crises under capitalism, both theoretically and empirically.  The critics are not from mainstream economics, who generally ignore the role of profit in crises altogether.  They partly come from post-Keynesian…

ASSA 2022: part two – the heterodox

In this second post on the annual ASSA economics conference, I look at the papers and presentations made by radical and heterodox economists.  These presentations are mostly under the auspices of the Union of Radical Political Economics (URPE) sessions, but the Association of Evolutionary Economics also provided an umbrella for some sessions. The mainstream…

Price controls: do they work?

“We have a powerful weapon to fight inflation: price controls. It’s time we consider it.”  So said Isabelle Weber, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the author of How China Escaped Shock Therapy, writing in the UK Guardian newspaper.  Weber’s piece was just 800 words long, but it provoked a…

Forecast for 2022

At the beginning of each year, I make an attempt to forecast what will happen in the world economy for the year ahead.  The point of making any forecast at all is often ridiculed.  After all, surely there are just too many factors to feed into any economic forecast to get even close to what eventually happens.  Moreover, mainstream economic forecasts…

Top ten posts of 2021

I began this blog eleven years ago. Over those years, I have posted over 1000 times with over 4 million viewings. There are currently 6100 regular followers of the blog up from 5300 last year; and 11500 followers (up from 10500 last year) of the Michael Roberts Facebook site, which I started six years ago.  On that Facebook site, I put short daily…

Books of the year

This is not a review of the best books of the year, but a reminder of the books that I have reviewed during 2021.  In this second year of COVID, let’s start with Adam Tooze’s Shutdown.  Tooze is the liberal left’s current favourite historian.  And Tooze is the ultimate ‘historian of the moment’.  By that I mean a deep analysis of major…

Wape 15

The 15th Forum of the World Association for Political Economy (WAPE) took place on 18-19 December.  It was held physically at the Shanghai International Studies University, China; but was complemented by virtual panels with a large number of Marxist economists from outside China participating.  There were around 200 papers presented on a range of…

Chile: copper-bottomed?

The victory of former student leader and activist Gabriel Boric in Chile’s presidential election is the culmination of a sweeping change of mood and direction among Chilean voters.  In a 56% turnout, the highest since voting was made voluntary, 35-year old Boric took 56% of the vote compared to ultra-right Antonio Kast’s 44%.   Boric has pledged…

The central bankers’ dilemma

“The inflation that we got was not at all the inflation that we were looking for,” US Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell said in his press conference after the Fed’s monetary policy committee decided to accelerate the ‘tapering’ of its bond purchases to zero by March 2022 and suggested that it will start to hike its policy interest rate (the…

World inequality

The world has become more unequal in income and wealth in the last 40 years.  That’s according to the World Inequality Report 2022, available here.  Produced by the World Inequality Lab, run by Thomas Piketty and a group of over 100 analysts from around the world, the report has the most up-to-date and complete data on the various facets of inequality…


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