Crises (economic)

From Academic Kids

In economics, crisis is an old term in business cycle theory, referring to the sharp transition to a recession. It is still used as part of Marxist political economy. It refers to a period in which the normal process of the reproduction of an economic process over time suffers from a temporary breakdown. This crisis period encourages intensified class conflict or societal change -- or the revival of a more normal accumulation process.

Many or most observers of Karl Marx's theoretical work argue that Marx himself did not come to a final conclusion about the nature of crises under capitalism. Instead, his many works (published and unpublished) suggested several different theories, none of them free from controversy. A key characteristic of these theories is that none of them are natural or accidental in origin but instead arise from the nature of capitalism as a society. In Marx's words, "The real barrier of capitalist production is capital itself."[1] (http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch15.htm)

These theories include:

  • The tendency for the rate of profit to fall. The accumulation of capital involves a general tendency for the degree of capital intensity, i.e., the "organic composition of capital" of production to rise. All else constant, this leads to a fall in the rate of profit, which leads to a slow-down of capitalism and perhaps a crisis.
  • Full employment profit squeeze. Capital accumulation can pull up the demand for labor-power, raising wages. If wages rise "too high," it hurts the rate of profit, causing a recession.

In theory at least, these different views may not contradict each other and may instead be complementary parts of a synthetic crisis theory.

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