[Marxism] Doug Henwood, Anwar Shaikh, and financial crisis

Ralph Johansen mdriscollrj at charter.net
Sat Dec 6 18:20:23 MST 2008

I don't know yet what specifically the Shaikh/Henwood exchange covered, 
but in Meszaros's recent talk entitled 'The unfolding crisis and the 
relevance of Marx' cited on this list is this quote, citing figures 
seldom mentioned, from Shii Kazuo in Japan Press Weekly Oct. 2008, p. 20:

"How much speculative capital is moving around the world? According to a 
Mitsubishi UFJ Securities analysis, the size of the global 'real 
economy', in which goods and services are produced and traded, is 
estimated at $48.1 trillion... On the other hand, the size of the global 
'financial economy', the total amount of stocks, securities and 
deposits, adds up to $151.8 trillion.  The financial economy thus has 
swollen to more than three times the size of the real economy, growing 
especially rapidly during the past two decades. The gap is as large as 
$100 trillion. An analyst involved in this estimation said that about 
half the amount, $50 trillion is scarcely necessary for the real 
economy. Fifty trillion dollars are well worth over 5,000 trillion yen, 
too big a number for me to comprehend."

If 'fictitious capital' is comprised mainly or entirely of 
obligations/promises to pay from the proceeds of the real economy (and 
the real economy is vastly overproduced and overvalued as well), some 
idea of the tremendous, bottomless hole of failed capitalist assets, 
global indebtedness and the consequences we're due to undergo is 
obtained. And how calculate what trillions are involved when in addition 
to the three stricken auto companies, Boeing, IBM, GE, 3M, the ailing 
airlines, media conglomerates, retailers and all the industrial giants 
on the rest of the planet join the bail-out queu? And then, when the 
economy at some point staggers back up with enormously accelerated 
concentration and centralization of corporate behemoths, there's the 
resulting increase in all the endless waste in this structurally chaotic 
system, in the context of the systemic predicate of infinite capital 
expansion - the phrenetic replacement of constant and other capital, the 
military, the automobile-engendered proliferation, never-ending 
chotchkies, and on and on. How long can the overwhelming majority of 
humankind tolerate the consequences? Is my imagination too fevered here? 
Can it possibly be an exaggeration? I haven't even mentioned the 
destruction of the environment, or the growing global food crisis. Argue 
with me, please, as a Henny Youngman might have said. Good grief, is 
Marx ever relevant!

Ralph Johansen

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