A specter is haunting the bourgeois economists, the specter of Marx. Paul Krugman opining today in The New York Times joins the growing ranks of mainstream economist who are wondering in light of the recent economic collapse that maybe a certain bearded German theorist was not totally wrong. Mostly wrong, but not completely. Will they come all the way around? Will we be seeing members of the Wall Street Journal editorial board against the barricades screaming, “Bourgeois economist of the world unite you have noting to lose but your chains!” Most likely not (though stranger things have and will happen). Nonetheless the quotes listed below are inexplicably satisfying.
”The only guy who really called this right was Karl Marx. Marx understood what would happen if you let the market run amok”
–Jim Cramer in an interview with Time Magazine
“Karl Marx had it right. At some point, Capitalism can destroy itself. You cannot keep on shifting income from labor to Capital without having an excess capacity and a lack of aggregate demand. That’s what has happened. We thought that markets worked. They’re not working. The individual can be rational. The firm, to survive and thrive, can push labor costs more and more down, but labor costs are someone else’s income and consumption. That’s why it’s a self-destructive process.”
–Nouriel Roubini in an interview with the Wall Street Journal
“Does Capitalism Need to Be More Marxist to Survive?”
–Paul Gambles Managing Partner, MBMG International writing for CNBC
“Wait — are we really back to talking about capital versus labor? Isn’t that an old-fashioned, almost Marxist sort of discussion, out of date in our modern information economy? Well, that’s what many people thought; for the past generation discussions of inequality have focused overwhelmingly not on capital versus labor but on distributional issues between workers, either on the gap between more- and less-educated workers or on the soaring incomes of a handful of superstars in finance and other fields. But that may be yesterday’s story.
More specifically, while it’s true that the finance guys are still making out like bandits — in part because, as we now know, some of them actually are bandits — the wage gap between workers with a college education and those without, which grew a lot in the 1980s and early 1990s, hasn’t changed much since then. Indeed, recent college graduates had stagnant incomes even before the financial crisis struck. Increasingly, profits have been rising at the expense of workers in general, including workers with the skills that were supposed to lead to success in today’s economy.”
–Paul Kraugman writing in the New York Times