30 January 2014

Britain: the end of recession?

In Janury 2014 the British economy boasted 1.9% growth. What does this mean?

So the British economy has grown by 1.9%. Apparently, the recession following the financial crisis of 2008 is over, and economically the country now stands a shade short of where it was at the end of the boom of the early 2000s.

Marxists always feel happier and more confident when the economy crashes and sinks. But in a recession - now as in the early 1930s or 1980s - low commodity prices and labour costs mean that a point is reached when capital finds new investment opportunities and an upward spiral begins again.

But does the fact that the economy overall in monetary terms is 1.9% richer than it was a year ago mean that ordinary working people are 1.9% better off? Well, not if inequality is rising so that all, or a large part, of that increase just benefits the richest. Indeed, wealth at the top end, rather than trickling down, results in pushing up property and service prices to the detriment of ordinary people.

We have reached a point in the advanced capitalist countries where the overriding problem is not the total amount of wealth in the society, but its unequal distribution and miserable usage. Yet sadly there is no serious socialist project to even highlight the problem let alone rectify it.

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