24 Dec 2007
Death of a radical economist
Sad to hear that Andrew Glyn has died. He certainly would have provided useful analysis of the apparently mounting evidence for likely economic recession.
This is from an interview with Rob Hoveman courtesy of Socialist Review, Rob left the SWP as part of the RESPECT fallout recently, bumped into him with Hiliary Wainwright at the RR conference. Credit to both SWP and Rob for running this interesting interview.
Andrew Glyn was in the 1970s the main economist working with the Militant tendency who have know evolved into the Socialist Party (in the UK).
Wiki oracle says
I am intrigue to find that he was also a supporter of that staple of Green Party economic policy the basic income scheme...via this rather critical review of his 2006 book 'Capitalism Unleashed' here.
Capitalism cannot survive without every increasing growth, which is one of the reasons it is unsustainable, yes it is innate exploitative and yes there are alternatives...however we need to ask the difficult questions of where specifically we are economically at present, which Glynn always attempted to do.
In particular, as he puts it in Capitalism Unleashed, "having beaten off the challenges of the 1970s the capitalist system in the North has not reached the 'end of history' where growth and stability are assured."
He singles out three major problems for world economic growth over the next few years. Firstly, productivity growth is likely to slow over the next few years with the secular shift towards services where it is more difficult to innovate. An ageing population compounds the problem.
Secondly, there are likely to be increasing environmental constraints on the world economy. Already there is evidence of this in rising oil prices and depletion of other essential materials.
Thirdly, the benefit to the North from low wage production in China will decrease as wages inevitably rise in China, as the precedents of history suggest always happens as labour reserves dry up.
Some thoughts from Glyn's comment is free piece on global inequality here:
It is not too far-fetched to imagine a long period of investment stagnation in the industrialised countries, with "emerging markets" being so much more profitable. This could bring intense pressure on jobs and working conditions in Britain and elsewhere. Even sectors where relocation was not possible, like retailing or education, would be flooded with job seekers. The bargaining chips would be in the hands of capital to a degree not seen since the industrial revolution. Fluctuations in labour's share being confined to the range of 65-75% could disappear too, with Marx's rising rate of exploitation re-emerging, a century and a half after he first predicted it.
Could the economy become ever more dependent on the luxury consumption of the wealthy, who receive a disproportionate share of the higher profits? Alternatively, would taxation of profits be increased to expand government services such as health and education? With recent trends in favour of the wealthy intensifying, the fundamental issue of who gets what could no longer be confined to hesitant debates about minor changes in the share of taxation in national income, or adjustments to the top rate of income tax.
However it is worth noting his comments on the Japanes Uno school from the SR interview:
"The world economy is too complicated and there are too many different causal factors. I don't believe, as I used to, that Marx's concepts should be applied too literally to economic data. I prefer the view of the Japanese Uno school that Marx's analysis should rather inform one's way of looking at the world and the questions one asks. The first volume of Capital, for example, provides a brilliant framework for understanding what is happening in China today."