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International Seminar: Marxist analyses of the global crisis 2009

2 October 2009

2-4 October 2009, IIRE, Amsterdam

The purpose of the seminar is to analyse the nature and the consequences of the present international economic crisis. Two main issues should be raised:

  • What is the nature of the present crisis? Is it a classical economic crisis of capitalism? Or is it a new kind of economic crisis due to the peculiar role of finance? A crisis of financialised capitalism? Are there solid reasons to believe that it will be as dramatic as 1929 or not?
  • What are the economic, political and social consequences? If it is indeed a big depression, can we think that a new brand of capitalism could emerge from the intervention of the state in different countries? For instance a-"de-financialised capitalism"? Or will it be the return of the neoliberal agenda and "business as usual" after the bulk of the crisis has passed?

The first question raises several theoretical points that should be addressed: Is the theory of the long waves of accumulation relevant to explain this crisis or are other Marxist and other radical theoretical frameworks more relevant? The issue of finance and financialisation has been already discussed in the past but it is now necessary to update our common understanding of the interconnections between the financial and productive spheres in late capitalism. A second set of questions is linked to the systemic aspect of the crisis. It is often said that this crisis is not only an economical and financial crisis but also a food, energy and ecological crisis, and that all these aspects are intertwined. If this is true, this crisis is not a classical one, but a global crisis of capitalism in the sense that the mere resolution of the economic crisis will not be sufficient to launch a new wave of capital accumulation. To seriously address the ecological crisis, it is necessary to establish not only in theory but also empirically the connections between the economical and ecological dimensions in the present crisis. This issue has also practical consequences because many countries such as the US and France have decided to invest huge amounts of public money in the automobile and nuclear industry for instance, as part of their rescue package.


The second question means that the economic and social evolution has to be analysed carefully not only in the US and the EU but also in Asia, Latin America and Africa. All continents are affected by the crisis but not as deeply and in the same way. For instance, China had its own specific problems (overheating economy, financial and real-estate bubbles, over-exploitation of workers) before the international crisis erupted. Chinese banks were not as much trapped in toxic assets as American and European ones. The effects of the international crisis are more channelled through the productive sphere (international trade, foreign direct investments) rather than the financial ones. Much the same can be said about Latin America and Africa. A global vision of the crisis is necessary to avoid a simplistic analysis of the crisis due to its focus on the US and the EU. By the same token, rescue packages and their effect on the crisis have to be analysed in their national context. A final aspect is to analyse how the crisis will affect the new relations of forces between major countries, and in particular between the US and China. Up to now, the US has played the role of "consumer of last resort" and Asia the role of main investor for financing their twin deficits. Now that the US demand is shrinking and their budget deficit and indebtedness skyrocketing will Asia, and especially China, be able or willing to keep on financing the US economy?





Friday 2 October. Analysing the crisis: How deep? How long? How pervasive?


Morning, session 1.


8h45: General introduction to the seminar (Bruno Jetin).


9-10 am: « Putting 'financialisation' in its correct place: the truly global and historical nature of the crisis" (François Chesnais, emeritus Professor, CEPN, Université Paris Nord)


10 to 10h15 break


10h15 to 11h15: discussion.


Break 15 minutes.


Morning session 2


11h30-12h30: "Political and social context in the US after the crisis" (provisional title). 1 hour of presentation (Ahmed Shawki, USA).


1 hour of presentation.


12h30- 13h30. Lunch.


Afternoon, 13h30: Discussion, 1 hour.


14h30. Session 3: "The crisis in Asia: An over-dependence on international trade or reflection of "labour repression-led" growth regime?" (Bruno Jetin, CEPN, Université Paris Nord, France).


15h30-15-45: break.


15h45-16h45: discussion.


16h45-17h00: break.


17h00. Session 4: "The crisis in Latin America: old or new one?" (Claudio Katz, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina)


18h-18h15 break


18h15-19h15 discussion


19h15. End of the first day.






Saturday 3 October. The theory of long waves in the light of the crisis.


Morning session 1, 9H00: "Specificity of the crisis in Europe: Will national stimulus plans be enough in the absence of an EU coordinated response?" (Ozlem Önaran, Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien, Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration, Austria)


10 to 10h15 break.


10h15 to 11h15: discussion.


Break 15 minutes.


Morning session 2.


11h30-12h30: Long waves and the present crisis: has finance long delayed the deep overproduction crisis? (Klaus Engert, Germany)


12h30- 13h30. Lunch.


Afternoon sessions.


13h30-14h30: Discussion, 1 hour.


14h30-14h45: break


14h45-15h45: Is the theory of long waves still valid? Conditions for a new long-term cycle of growth. (Michel Husson, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales, France)


15h45-16h00: break.


16h00-17h00: discussion.


17h00: end of the sessions.


Sunday 4 October. Our responses to the ecological crisis and economical crisis


Morning session 1:


9-10 am: "The food crises: long-term structural crises or effect of short-term speculation?" (Ester Vivas, Centre for Studies on Social Movements (CEMS) at Universitat Pompeu Fabra.)"


10h-10h15: Break


10h15 to 11h15: discussion.


Break 15 minutes.


Morning session 2:


11h30-12h30: "Green capitalism against Ecosocialism" (speaker Daniel Tanuro, Ingénieur-chercheur et agronome).


12h30- 13h30. Lunch.


Afternoon session:


Afternoon, 13h30: Discussion, 1 hour.


14h30-15h30: Social struggle and alternative responses to the crisis. (Eric Toussaint, CADTM, Belgium).


Discussion, 1 hour.


1 hour of presentation. 15 minutes break, and 1 hour minutes of discussion.


16h45: General conclusion and end of the seminar.

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