Thursday, August 20, 2009

David McWilliams and Money

Sunday, 9 December 2007
David McWilliams and Money
by Paddy Hackett

David McWilliams: Far from committing too much money to public projects, (as
much of the typically predictable commentary suggested this morning), he
didn't commit enough. He told us he was going to be ambitious, but he
bottled it (against his political instincts).

Yesterday was the day to tell the cautious mandarins of the Department of
Finance where to go. It was time to borrow heavily. This is particularly
logical given his view that the housing recession will not spill over into
the real economy in any worrying way. If that is the case, than now is the
best time to borrow to fund desperately needed new infrastructure...

Paddy Hackett: David has repeatedly made claims that the national economy of
the Irish Republic will suffer a hard landing yet he appears to be ironically
claiming in this current piece of his that the choices made by the Minister for
Finance can make a difference to the future state of the economy --hard or
soft landing.

It is questionable as to whether the Government should have taken up the
slack, as David would have it, by borrowing money on a significantly larger
scale to pour into the economy for capital projects. At the moment it is not
clear as to what the condition of the world economy is. Furthermore even if
this were clear the world economy (including here the Irish economy) may not
have progressed along its cycle sufficiently to render appropriate a very
large injection of funds into the national economy. Timing is of the utmost
importance here. If the economic downturn is far from bottoming out then a
mega injection of capital may not create the conditions for recovery. Then
too there are the constraints that the European Commission may impose
on the small Irish economy.

Generally it is just not clear as to what is the current condition of the
world economy particularly its more powerful components (the US). How then
can it be said what kind of interventionism is appropriate by the Irish
state? Given the uncertainities prevailing the present budget was probably
the best action the Irish bourgeois state could take as a means of coping
with the current economic contraction.

If it was a matter of throwing copious volumes of money at the problem of
economic downturns, recessions and depressions then it would follow
that they need never, in effect, exist anywhere in the capitalist world. But
this cannot be since the nature of economic downturn has a deeper and
more complex cause located in the contradictory nature of the valorisation
process of capital itself.

Overall the coalition government has probably done, budgetwise, as best
a job as they could concerning the immediate present in expressing the
interests of the capitalist class and capitalism itself.

Paddy Hackett

Should the Irish banks be nationalised?

Many economic commentators call for the nationalization of Irish banks.
They claim that it will reduce costs to the state. It is suggested by some
commentators such as SIPTU's Manus O Riordan and Brian Lucey that Fianna
Fail's policy concerning the refusal to nationalise is ideologically driven.
This cannot be true especially given its history of past nationalisations
and its generally populist character. They miss a sigificant political
point. It is the Fianna Fail party's intention to maximise protection to the
developers and their allies, the Irish banks. This Fianna Fail hopes to
achieve by buying toxic assets at a higher price than is necessary. In this
way revenue will have been transferred from one section of the capitalist to
another --to the bankers and developers. The acute nature of the Irish
Republic's economic crisis is exposing the degree to which the existence of
the Fianna Fail party depended on the financial support of Irish property
developers. Fianna Fail cannot turn on the developers. To do so would be to
turn on itself. This, in a sense, is the basis for the Irish property bubble
and the Fianna Fail government's procrastination wirth regard to its

It must be also remembered that not all Irish developers are going to
ultimately suffer from the property market collapse. Many of the weaker
property developers will be squeezed out to the advantage of the stronger
capitalist developers. In this way they can increase their profits. Indeed
the present depression is all about the need to squeeze weaker capitalists
out of the system to the advantage of bigger ones. If there is not a social
revolution then there will be a consolidation of finance capital at the
expense of weaker capitalists and the working class.

If there is not a global revolution the working class are in for a hard
time. This is why I have written that things, in the wake of the current
depression, are never going to be the same again. The working class, to
defend its class interests, must strengthen itself organisationally and
politically against the consolidation of capitalism. The worker is going to
be made pay for the billions that Washington, London, Paris etc., have
recently injected into the financial sector to help slow down and arrest the
downturn. But this massive unprecedented injection of funds into the system
is merely going to create a new "bubble" that leads to a new collapse.
Capitalism is afraid to let the depression go its full course to thereby
cleanse the system because of the potential threat from the working class.
Indeed capitalism has become so contradictory that even a very deep downturn
may not save it from deep stagnation. The cyclical downturn is now no longer
sufficient as it would have been in the 19th century. Now capitalism needs
cyclical inter-imperialist wars.

Paddy Hackett