Richard Wolff, UMass Amherst economics professor emeritus, commented recently in a story published in Elefterotypia, Athens, Greece’s daily paper. The English translation, published on Wolff’s website, is below:
2010 marks year #3 of this crisis in global capitalism. This is a systemic crisis with extreme symptoms in different places at different times: now Icelandic banks, then US homeowners being foreclosed, now Mexico losing emigrants’ remittances, then Greece’s government bonds, and so on. Capitalist hegemony cannot admit or deal with the disease of capitalism as a system. Instead, the focus shifts from symptom to symptom to press local institutions to shift the costs of crisis onto workers.
Capitalism’s systemic crisis is no mystery. For 30 years, wages were restrained (by incorporating vast new supplies of labor power) relative to enhanced productivity (via computerization and telecommunications). Exploding surplus and profits produced another capitalist speculation frenzy built on excessive risk. Workers in Europe and especially the US reacted to stagnant real wages by borrowing too much. By 2007, the crisis emerged from: a financially overextended working class, employers with excess productive capacity, wealthy individuals with too many risky investments, and an international economy with severe trade and capital flow imbalances among nations.
Instead of moving beyond a capitalist system that endlessly reproduces such crises, servants of the status quo prefer to blame and squeeze some local workers: this time Greeks.