Economic Problems and Marxian Analysis


  • Richard D. Wolff



Marxism, Political Economy


The last ten years in the United States have seen average real wages fall and the incidence of poverty and homelessness rise. We have had very high rates of inflation, unemployment, interest, and business bankruptcies. Some of these rates were unprecedented in recent United States history, excepting world wars and the Great Depression. Yet, in our very uneven economic system, the Reagan tax cuts and defense spending pumped up many corporate balance sheets and made rich Americans richer still. As happened before, the stock market consequently flared in a speculative frenzy and then crashed. The United States shifted from an international creditor to a debtor status. Basic industries were crippled by foreign competition. Firms that made big profits used them to arrange megamergers rather than to expand or rebuild industrial capacity. The oligopolized banking structure became dependent on massive, uncollectable loans both to foreign debtors and to wild speculators in the domestic energy and real estate sectors. The collapse of medium and small farms remains endemic across the country. The labor union movement declined sharply and now represents barely a sixth of the non-supervisory labor force. The increased inequality of income distribution sharpens social divisions and conflicts everywhere.