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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Can Marxian Economics Explain the Crisis?

John Quiggin wonders if anyone has constructed "a distinctively Marxian analysis of the current crisis":

Marxian economics MIA?, by John Quiggin: The financial crisis has, justifiably, enhanced the reputation of Karl Marx as an economic thinker. Marx was the first economist to treat crises and panics as an inherent feature of capitalism rather than as an inexplicable, but fortunately temporary, departures from a natural equilibrium.
Unfortunately, most of his analytical effort, and even more, that of the school of thought that followed him, was devoted to pointless exercises in value theory[1]. Marx’s discussion of crisis rested mainly on the idea of the falling rate of profit which seemed at the time to be both a theoretical inevitability and an observable trend. But with technological progress, there’s no necessity for the rate of profit to fall consistently, and it hasn’t. There are other ideas in Marx that might be developed to yield a better theory of crisis, but nothing resembling a systematic theory.
And, in the current crisis, Marxian economics seems to be pretty much Missing in Action. I haven’t seen much and what I have seen hasn’t added much, in analytical terms, to the standard left-Keynesian analysis. Perhaps the problem is that just about everyone expects capitalism, in one form or another, to survive this crisis, contrary to the orthodox Marxist view where crises become ever more severe and eventually precipitate the revolutionary overthrow of the entire system. But it’s equally possible that I haven’t been looking in the right places.
Readers of my blog have pointed me here, which has some good stuff, but, as I said, isn’t much different from the standard left-Keynesian analysis[2]. Can anyone recommend a distinctively Marxian analysis of the current crisis?
fn1. If I get time, I’ll write a longer post on this point. ...
fn2. Except for this piece, which reads more like Cochrane or Fama with some added Marxist verbiage.

    Posted by on Wednesday, January 6, 2010 at 12:24 AM in Economics | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (162)


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