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The Next Economic Crash Will End Capitalism As We Know It

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When America next experiences an economic downturn, it won't be like the relatively small recessions that the country used to regularly undergo before the 2008 crash. It will be a collapse of such magnitude that the global economy won't ever be able to recover, like it eventually did after the Great Depression. It will likely be the end of the growth period of capitalism, and the beginning of an unprecedented contraction that leaves civilization dramatically changed.

There are several factors behind this uniquely perilous precipice that the economy is teetering on. I'll first focus on the one that will set off the process of collapse, then examine how the other factors will exacerbate the damage.

What will start the crash: the capitalist world's concentrated and unsustainable financial system

Stalin observed that "Imperialism is the omnipotence of the monopolist trusts and syndicates, of the banks and the financial oligarchy, in the industrial countries." This quote was in the context of an essay where Stalin illustrated how imperialism creates a self-destructive problem with how modern capitalism functions; he concluded that because imperialism makes corporate power dominant over the institutions of society, people aren't able to defeat corporate power through reforms but rather through overthrowing the system.

This contradiction of imperialist capitalism, as Stalin described it, has grown more pronounced than ever. After the 2008 bailout, the big banks gained even more power over the economy than before, making them impossible to adequately regulate without breaking them up. The five biggest banks now own around half the industry, and in 2013 it was estimated that the largest 0.2 percent of banks control 69 percent of bank assets. This has happened while Wall Street and the government have become one, with the Obama and Trump administrations both going out of their way to put bank executives in high positions.

Naturally, the experience of the workers and the unemployed has gotten more filled with hardship in the last decade. Most Americans haven't recovered from the Great Recession, and global inequality has continued to rise. Debt, both within the households of struggling proletarians and within the financial system, has risen since 2008 and has so far surpassed their 2008 levels. People aren't able to make a living like they used to. The contradiction between labor and capital, as Stalin called this issue, is becoming ever more severe.

This reality, that monopolies and slowing economic growth have driven down living standards, undercuts the narrative that capitalism has recovered from the recession and is undergoing a "boom." What good is a healthy stock market when the world's economy is sitting on financial bubbles that are similar to the ones which led up to the 2008 crash? What good are low official unemployment numbers when many working people are still poor and sinking ever deeper into debt? The current "prosperity" is built on borrowed time. As Marshall Auerback wrote in his article from last year The Global Economy Is a Time Bomb Waiting To Explode:

If you thought the near-breakdown of the global economy in 2008 was enough to make global policymakers and regulators rethink their persistent accommodation of financial innovation and deregulation, think again. Regulators have continued to accommodate this complexity, rather than minimizing it. Complex financial systems beget yet more complex (and ultimately ineffective) regulation. It is better to simplify the system in order to improve the quality of the regulation and the ease of oversight (which the complexity is designed to avoid).

Unfortunately, that's not what our policymakers have done. Instead of redesigning the system, the monetary authorities have simply inserted themselves in the chain of intermediation that included an ever-evolving variety of books of business without actually considering whether there were too many weak links in the credit chain in the first place. Rather than shorten or redesign the economy's credit structures, and curb the risks accordingly, central banks instead have simply acted as the ultimate guarantors in a supply chain from money-like instruments to longer-term and riskier credit. Absent any kind of sanction for undertaking more systemically dangerous activities, our policymakers have therefore made the same mistakes that were made in the early 2000s: they are establishing perverse ongoing incentives that increase risk, punishing the timid (prudent?) with low returns. It's a classic illustration of Gresham's Law, whereby bad money drives out good.

So sometime this decade, most likely within the next two years, the economy is going to contract again, and this time there won't be a stable enough financial structure to keep it from turning into a depression. The banks, being more powerful than ever in a paradigm of neoliberalism and corporatized imperialism, have made themselves politically impune from consequences for the damage they wrought in 2008. As a result, the unsustainable system they've created is going to crash again, this time even more severely.

What will exacerbate the crash: the fall of U.S. imperialism and the decline of the dollar

It's no coincidence that the great crash of the 2020s is approaching at the same time when the American empire is in a rapid state of decline, and when global capitalism is collapsing. The United States, which is the epicenter for global imperialism, was naturally the country whose deregulatory policies triggered the last global recession. So its internal economic crises throughout the 2020s will have similar global ripple effects, ones which will be exacerbated by the worldwide decline in capitalist growth.

These falling dominos of bourgeois economic power will ultimately be offset by the collapse of the American empire, which factored into the 2008 crash and will have an even bigger impact on the next downturn. The unraveling of America's financial system, which is so concentrated and dangerous because of America's role as the core imperial country, is inseparable from the unraveling of Washington's geopolitical influence.

Having noted these connections between the capitalist world's financial, economic, and imperialist structures, it's easier to understand why the financial crash will happen around the same time as a key part of the U.S. empire's collapse: the fall of the dollar. The increasing abandonment of the dollar by world powers in the last two decades has so far provoked an anxious reaction from the empire; Washington has recently threatened to militarily attack Iran and Venezuela because of these countries' shifting away from the dollar in international trade. The increasingly heavy-handed U.S. sanctions on these and the other nations that have forsaken the dollar, which in recent years have been accompanied by trade wars and blatantly illegal military interventions, are destroying Washington's global reputation and speeding up the worldwide move away from American currency.

It's likely that at some point this decade, American currency will lose enough of its global reinforcement that this will take a severe toll on the country's economy. Chris Hedges has observed that:

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The Next Economic Crash Will End Capitalism As We Know It

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13 people are discussing this page, with 19 comments


911TRUTH

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The Next Economic Crash Will End Capitalism As We Know It

But only for the 99%.

The 1% will be just fine, and even thrive, by design.

Submitted on Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020 at 4:34:04 PM

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Stan Crawford

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Has Reiner Shea renounced his citizenship and relocated to any of the "Communist" countries he so admires? Your articles bloviating the virtues of "Communism" would be taken more seriously if you did. Then, you'd see first hand how absurd your articles really are.

One needs to remind you that the former USSR collapsed, with Stalin and Lenin no longer relevant to its or the satellite nations that once made up the USSR. The citizens grown tired of the living standard they were forced to endure while the governing class lived a higher standard of living.

Why is it wealthy Chinese are moving their money and themselves out of China? They do not trust the CCP is why. China's economic miracle did not begin until it integrated Capitalism into its economic plans. China is far more Capitalist than "Communist" today and the majority of its citizens only endure its tyrannical system since the PLA points their guns at them. Doubt you would be bloviating praises of the CCP if your were Tibetan, or any of the 56 minorities that make up China.

You are young, easily impressionable and naive. When you actually move to a "Communist" country to live as its citizens do, will be the day you can write from experience, but doubtful you would still be "Communist."

Submitted on Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020 at 4:44:03 PM

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George W.Reichel

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Reply to Stan Crawford:   New Content

So the road goes on forever and the party never ends??Only in songs.

Submitted on Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020 at 5:39:16 PM

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David William Pear

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Reply to Stan Crawford:   New Content

To say "love it or leave it" is undemocratic. Nor is it appropriate to question someone's wisdom based on their age, or tell someone when and under what circumstances they can express their opinion.

Submitted on Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020 at 7:07:57 PM

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Stan Crawford

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Just where in my comment did I say "love it or leave it?" You, like many here at opednews immediately assume what your mind thinks I said and not what is directly said by me. These "Communist's" who opednews articles live outside of the countries they so promote, or have lived a privileged life within one, but no longer there; have NOT endured what the average citizen who has lived under these regimes have!

I lived 10 years in China (2003-2015), working at medical schools related to hospitals my great great grandfather built between 1866-1901. I have seen how the "CCP" members are treated compared to the villagers I volunteered to see on the weekends. My wife retired as an Executive administrator of the Sichuan Food & Drug Administration and as a "Foreign Expert," we attended many a lavish multi-course meals, drinking the finest baiju's at exotic locations. While in Tibet for our honeymoon, the travel agent in Lhasa got a rude awakening when he tried to shaft us. After my wife made a phone call to the mayor of Chengdu, our hotel and other arrangements became VIP with no personal out-of pocket expenses paid. I received a personal tour of the Polta Palace before it opened to the public as an added bonus.

Marxism is an idealistic system, but the problem is human ego, that thinks it deserves more than the average person does. I certainly don't promote the cut-throat Capitalism the west endures, but China has never been "Communist, a tad of Socialism and you think Capitalism is bad here, then you have not Experienced the brutal Capitalism China practices.

These articles disregard the historical fact Lenin and Stalin are no longer practiced due to their hypocrisy and even the names of cities renamed in their honor no longer exist. Xi Jing Ping is now leader for life, another Huang Di.

I have seen BOTH sides of the PRC/CCP and certainly don't look forward to the surveillance system the west is so eagerly creating for them that will be used throughout the world very soon. I currently must endure IMPOTUS, who thinks he is a King, a King at the Con Game that is; and this is what all the current regimes are that sic. claim to be "Communist."

Submitted on Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020 at 7:51:40 PM

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Stan Crawford

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Reply to David William Pear:   New Content

Neglected to add this link to my rebuttal of your comment. It's about the former president of the West China School of Medicine, who committed suicide for investigation of corruption. click here



scanalyse

What I remember visiting relatives in Czechoslovakia and Hungry in the mid-70's, they said they had it all too, but if it was so great, then why did it collapse?


I don't proclaim Capitalism as a great system to live by, but compared to what I saw as a teenager in Eastern Europe and resided a decade in four different cities in China was no utopia.


Do I see a collapse of the Capitalist system similar to what has happened to the former USSR? Yes, somewhat. There will be an attempt to revise it before it is completely discarded.


Do I continue to see China's rise? Most defiantly, but I do not think this is good for humanity in the long run. The BRI will continue to lift multitudes out of poverty, but at a great costs to human civil rights in exchange for state control.


The west is also accepting a more authoritarian control in exchange for a mythical feeling of security. In another generation it won't matter what type of political system you support, cause they all are responsible for the conundrum facing humanity today.

Submitted on Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020 at 10:41:22 PM

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scanalyse

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It was not utopia but nevertheless, it was pretty good. Why did it collapse?

Alphabet agencies + some fools who wanted to have a choice of 18 sorts of cereals for breakfast. You know, grass is always greener on the other side...

So we ceased to be citizens, and are all proud consumers now. Too bad we can't afford to buy much of all those new shiny things after we barely cover up for necessities.

What do your relatives think of this transition triumph?

Submitted on Thursday, Jan 23, 2020 at 6:10:41 PM

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scanalyse

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I lived in a communist country. It was terrible: health and dental care, education, all free of charge; guarantied jobs, pensions, affordable housing, childcare, maternity leave, payed sick days and vacations, lots of public places and services... you name it - we had it all.

Then some buffoons thought we could do better and, with little help from some alphabet agencies, blew it all up.

Now we have precarious temporary jobs, sky-high housing and utilities prices, expensive child care, healthcare in decline, maternity leave translates into unemployment, no payed vacations, all public services get gradually privatised... but we have our own 1% thieves with their own yachts and villas - what's not to like?

BTW, I am not young, easily impressive nor naive. I am speaking from real life experience and, frankly, capitalism sucks

Submitted on Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020 at 10:02:42 PM

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nelswight

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Reply to Stan Crawford:   New Content

Stan, I admire your input, but you don't seem to differentiate between communism (which doesn't even exist) and other forms of the economies involving socialistic government.

Submitted on Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020 at 10:40:55 PM

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kappie

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you pick the 2 worse countries to defend capitalism.What about Norway which is largely socialistic has many social programs c ut by your republican friends and is still way ahead of US living standards.Socialism can work if it is used in a real democracy.capitalism has largely failed and keeps failing

Submitted on Thursday, Jan 23, 2020 at 2:38:16 PM

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Stan Crawford

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Did you read my comment? I don't support Capitalism as it is currently practiced in the west. Another opednews reader who interprets what they think I wrote instead of reading what is actually written.

Submitted on Thursday, Jan 23, 2020 at 4:45:49 PM

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Becky Comstock

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Actually it's capitalism that powers and enables what Norway chooses in terms of public services. So hardly a failure. And of course they have a large pool of black gold to boot.

Undoubtedly, the Nordic nations, with their high incomes, low inequality, free politics and strong rule of law, represent success stories. What this has to do with socialism, though, is another question.....

......"Copy the Nordic model if you like, but understand that it entails a lot of capitalism and pro-business policies, a lot of taxation on middle class spending and wages, minimal reliance on corporate taxation and plenty of co-pays and deductibles in its healthcare system," the report notes.

Submitted on Thursday, Jan 23, 2020 at 8:47:50 PM

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Lou Pintada

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Good review, but the author missed a major factor that will make this coming depression worse than the last one. Peak affordable oil.

Once the financial system becomes weak enough that drilling to support fracking is no longer paid for by free money, it will not start up again. Remember that the fracking companies have made no money in aggregate and, now that the sweet spots have already been drilled, it is impossible for them to make money in the future. It simply takes more money to produce the oil than society can afford to pay.

Still believe the MSM about infinite oil from a finite planet? See:

And:

Submitted on Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020 at 7:22:59 PM

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David Wieland

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I've never heard of anyone claiming infinite oil. However, as you hint, the meaning of "peak oil" depends on price. We're decades from hitting the point at which the cost of oil extraction exceeds its value, i.e., its affordability. In addition, we have other hydrocarbon resources in abundance. Natural gas is still plentiful, and coal is truly abundant, with centuries' worth identified. And this is without considering inevitable technological developments. Already improvements in energy efficiency have yielded much more "bang for the buck" than just a few decades ago, when my VW Beetle got a whopping 25 mpg. Now you can get a pickup truck with that mileage. I've read of experimental technology to convert coal to oil, so who knows what other options may come along before "peak oil".

Submitted on Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020 at 9:28:35 PM

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nelswight

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RAINER. IN MY LONG years of following this downhill progression (recession), you seem extraordinarily well- informed and advised. I would expect you have enjoyed excellent tutoring, education and phenomenal insight. In my humble opinion, you express considered wisdom.

Submitted on Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020 at 10:36:02 PM

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lila york

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Indeed. But with such a dismal, bleak, torturous future as Rainer portrays, I am not sure I will want to be around for it. Luckily I am old.

Submitted on Thursday, Jan 23, 2020 at 2:55:27 AM

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Rainer Shea

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Thanks so much! I credit the family I grew up in for fostering my creativity and instilling me with something of a politically radical worldview. More than anything in my formal education, that's inspired me to gather these details and write about them.

Submitted on Thursday, Jan 23, 2020 at 5:34:39 AM

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Thanks for writing. You are an inspiration to many.

P.S. Your article hit the current number one most popular list.

Submitted on Thursday, Jan 23, 2020 at 2:51:02 PM

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Lance Ciepiela

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Yes, of course, #theFed stands ready, willing, and able, to 'borrow more money' to the president and congress, 'as need be' to keep the capitalist system afloat, having over a hundred years of experience with 'boom & bust' cycles, and 'at the helm', we have Trump, who has apparently assumed Obama's title as 'the king of debt' with his trillion dollar deficits and twenty two trillion national debt (23-27 trillion national debt would be needed for a Trump second term in office). Of course we may be facing the end of our Republic as we knew it ("it's a Republic, if you can keep it" - Benjamin Franklin) if the GOP senators (led 'like sheep to slaughter' by the 'think of me as the' #GrimReaper McConnell), the majority in the Senate, vote "NAY", 'not to remove' Trump from office in Trump's senate impeachment trial - Trump had defied the congress by never providing even one document that they needed for their impeachment inquiry and Trump ordered all his officials and agencies and supporters not to testify or cooperate in any way with the House Democrats investigating his 'abuse of power' and 'obstruction of congress, in effect assuming the role of a monarch or king, an 'imperial president' placing himself above the law and above our constitution and unaccountable completely, not even to our duly elected congress or to the American people.

Submitted on Thursday, Jan 23, 2020 at 3:10:47 PM

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