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Here’s my just written article and analysis of last friday’s US Jobs Report for July, and why all the hype about 528,000 jobs misses the real contradictory trend in the report. Why the Report’s two surveys, the CES and CPS, paint totally different pictures as to the condition of the US labor market and where its’ going. And if the CPS is correct, not the CES 528,000 jobs, then Fed interest rate policy is throwing fuel on the fire of recession already here with the spark just beginning to appear in the bowels of the labor market.

THE BOMBSHELL IN THE US JULY JOBS REPORT

Last Friday, August 5, US Jobs Report for July 2022 surprised even mainstream economists who had forecast a 250,000 increase in jobs created in the official US Labor Dept. monthly jobs report for the period ending mid-July. The numbers came in at 528,000 in the CES, the large corporations’ survey for the month.

The unexpected large increase in jobs was jumped on by Biden administration and business sources alike who had been arguing publicly in preceding weeks that the US economy was not in recession. How could it be a recession, when the jobs market was so robust, the argument went?

Never mind the fact that the US economy measured in GDP terms contracted by -1.6% in the first quarter of 2022, followed by another -0.9% contraction in the second quarter for a combined first half, January thru June, decline of -1.3%.  That was just a ‘technical’ recession, not a real one, the recession deniers argued. The real declaration of a recession remains, the Biden administration officials argued, is with that group of politically well-connected professional economists from elite universities who are members of the quasi-official NBER (National Bureau of Economic Research). It is they who decide whether a recession has occurred, and months after it is virtually over.

The NBER experts are yet to say it’s a recession, the administration declared.  The NBER looks at more than just GDP and jobs are being created at the rate of 528,000!

Of course this argument ignores the fact that jobs are notoriously a ‘lagging indicator’ and jobs decline in a recession only on average six months or later after a recession commences. The administration view also ignores the further fact that whenever GDP has contracted two consecutive months, as recently, in all the past US recessions it has been followed by the NBER also declaring well after the fact that a recession has occurred.

But there’s a deeper problem in the view that relies on the last jobs report to argue that there’s no recession yet, notwithstanding the first half GDP contraction in the US. That problem is last week’s jobs numbers—showing 528,000 new jobs—may not be accurate either: Even if it is assumed that large corporations created 528,000 jobs in July—as indicated in the CES (Establishment) survey of the Jobs Report—the second survey, the CPS or Household survey, in the report shows something quite opposite.

There’s a bombshell in the CPS survey that the Biden administration, the media, and most mainstream economists are conveniently ignoring—or else aren’t capable of understanding.

Here’s the basic contradiction July’s Jobs Report:

The CES Survey, which is based on about 450,000 larger enterprises reporting to the Labor Dept. every month, indicated the 528,000 ‘new’ jobs created in its B-1 Table.

But the second survey, the CPS Household survey, is obtained by the Labor Dept. doing a phone survey of 50-60,000 households every month and asking them if they’re working, if unemployed, if out of job but still looking for one, when was the last time they actively searched for a job, etc.  The CPS/household survey also determines the unemployment rate, not the CES.

But like the CES establishment survey the CPS survey also determines a monthly level of total employment in the economy. Thus, there’s two different estimates of jobs growth in the month.

The CPS survey revealed something quite different, even contradictory, to the 528,000 jobs gained in the CES survey last month. The CPS’s Table A-8 shows a decline in total non-agricultural jobs from June to July of –112,000.  Moreover, the CPS total employment numbers show an even further fall in total employment since May 2022 thru July 2022 of -181,000.

So what’s going on? What’s the correct number of employment gains in July? Is it the CES establishment survey’s 528,000 net new jobs in July? Or is it the CPS survey indicating 112,000 fewer net jobs?  

Never has the gap between the two surveys that constitute the monthly Labor Dept. Jobs Reports been larger.  But you’d never know it listening to the mainstream media or the politicians.

There’s a saying that ‘the truth is always in the details’ and that’s never truer than when considering government statistics—especially employment stats but wages and inflation as well.

And there’s a ‘bombshell’ group of stats within the CPS survey that strongly suggest the US labor market has hit a wall since May and is actually beginning to soften quickly—a trend that will likely accelerate in coming months.

If the CPS is the more accurate of the two surveys, and the jobs market is actually not robust but is softening, then perhaps recession is actually here now?

And there’s another implication from the contradiction in the two surveys’ jobs numbers: if the Federal Reserve focuses on the 528,000 number and continues to accelerate its interest rate hikes at 75 basis points again next month (and again thereafter), it will only accelerate the recession that has begun and cause it to go deeper than it already has.

What then precisely is the ‘bombshell’?

In Table A-8 in the CPS survey there’s a category that measures the number of part time jobs created the past month. It shows that no fewer than 800,000 part time jobs were filled during July—300,000 involuntarily part time jobs (i.e. workers forced to work part time when they wanted full time work) and another 500,000 part time jobs created voluntarily (i.e. workers chose to work part time).

First, one might ask, if 800,000 part time jobs were created, how does one get ‘only’ 528,000? It could logically happen if 275,000 or so full time workers ‘lost’ their jobs (i.e. 528,000 + 275,000 equals roughly 800,000). Or it could mean some of the 275,000 full timers lost their jobs outright but some of them found their full time jobs reduced to part time.  If the latter case, then the average number of hours worked should also show a decline in July.  But it didn’t. The average hours worked per week remained at 34.6 as it had in June. And in manufacturing, where typically more overtime hours are worked, hours worked also remained stable month to month as well, at 40.4 hours/week.  In other words, it doesn’t appear likely that the majority of the 275,000 jobs difference (i.e. 800,000 minus 528,000) is attributable to full time workers previously being reduced to part time hours. So some full timers must have been laid off.

Another possible explanation of the discrepancy is that perhaps many of the 528,000 new jobs were actually new part time jobs created in July. Maybe even more than 528,000 hired were part timers. (The Labor Dept does not differentiate between a new job that’s full time and one that’s part time. A new job is a new job. It counts both part time and full time as just ‘a job’.)

That many, if not most, of the 528,000 are likely ‘part time new hires’ is supported by the job gains in July in those industries that notoriously hire only part timers. According to the CES, there were 74,000 net new jobs created in bars and restaurant employment, for example. 22,000 in retail sales. Another 22,000 in hotels, accommodations and entertainment and so on. All these particular industries are notorious for hiring part timers almost exclusivelyl. Even manufacturing in recent decades has hired an increasing number of part time and temp workers. It too added 30,000 last month.

How many of the 528,000 CES survey July jobs were part time is unfortunately not specifically identified by the CES report. One must infer from data provided in other Tables in the CPS survey, as we’ve just done. It’s not exact, but it suggests the number of part time jobs created is probably quite large.

But what if the 528,000 is composed almost entirely of part time job creation? If so, the full time employment must have risen very little in July. But full time employment not only did not rise in July over June. It actually declined! CPS Table A-9, for example, shows 132,577 full time jobs in July down from 132,648 in June—a decline of 71,000. And the decline is even greater from May: 223,000 fewer full time jobs in July compared to last May.

So, per the CPS survey, full time jobs actually declined last month while part time jobs rose in July by 800,000. That suggests the 528,000 CES survey rise in jobs in July is overwhelmingly composed of part time jobs.

It’s important to understand that the monthly Jobs Reports do NOT represent workers finding work for the first time—either after being unemployed, or re-entering the labor force, or entering it for the first time.  The Jobs Reports report Jobs created, not employment per se.

Here’s a corroborating further statistic for this assumption that part time jobs are surging, accounting for the vast majority of the 528,000 while full time jobs are actually declining.

The category of ‘Multiple Job Holders’in CPS Table A-9 shows a consistent sharp rise in multiple job holders in recent months and over the past year for that matter. Multiple jobs mean virtually all part time jobs. Multiple jobs rose by 92,000 in July over June and by 331,000 since May. And from July 2021 to July 2022, the increase in multiple (2nd, 3rd) jobs was 549,000.

In other words, 331,000 of the job gains in recent months do not represent formerly unemployed workers returning to the workforce and getting ‘new’ jobs for the first time. They represent workers already with jobs—and increasingly those with only part time jobs—taking on new, additional part time jobs.

92,000 of the 800,000 part time jobs in July were thus workers taking on 2nd and 3rd jobs per Table A-9. And it’s further likely most of the -71,000 full time jobs lost were just cut from full time to part time work. All this churn going on the CPS survey which captures smaller employers is totally missing in the CES survey of larger corporations which picks up no data on part time, temp, multiple jobs, etc.

Summary

We can summarize these alternative statistics from the Labor Department’s July CPS survey showing a net decline of -112,000 jobs, that contradict its CES survey’s 528,000 new jobs assumption, as follows:

  • The CES survey picks up raw jobs data from larger enterprises but misses job trends in the small-medium businesses in which trends are more volatile and downturns (and upturns) in job creation often shift and precede trends in larger establishments
  • The CPS survey breaks out diverging trends in part time vs. full time work in more detail as well as part time that reflects multiple jobs vs. single held jobs (either full or part time)
  • The CPS shows slowing and evening declining job creation for full time work, which means less total wages for millions of workers compared to if they were full time.
  • Slowing to declining full time employment (CPS) amidst rising part time and multiple job holding means employers are hiring more cautiously, preferring part timers in case they have to soon lay off workers as recession deepens
  • The part time and multiple job trends are a ‘canary in the employment coal mine’, signaling a slowing in hiring overall that will soon spill over to the CES survey. It does not reflect a robust labor market ‘on fire’ in terms of hiring and economic growth.
  • Workers are taking on more part time and 2ndjobs because they probably can’t find decent paying full time jobs offered by companies.
  • All the media talk about 11 million jobs out there that workers won’t take does not account for the likelihood these are mostly not full time and are insufficient part time paid jobs.
  • All the hype about workers’ quit rates being so high is probably representative of workers quitting poorly paid part time jobs and seeking and getting other better paid part time work (or less dropping out of the workforce because they can’t find something better, which is also rising)

This scenario of the US jobs market does not support the view that the US economy is booming due to the large number of jobs created per the CES survey.

The Fed, therefore, by accelerating its rate hikes is doing the opposite of what it should.

Other labor statistics corroborate the view that the labor market is hitting a kind of wall this summer 2022. Look at the labor force participation rate statistic, which is also slowly declining in recent months. Or the rising number of people surveyed who indicate ‘Not in the Labor Force’. Or the numbers for the job category, unincorporated self-employed (i.e. mostly independent contractor very small businesses) which is dropping (are they also leaving self employment and taking part time jobs or just dropping out of the labor force as well?)

It is true that the numbers of employed rose significantly from the spring of 2021 to March 2022. That was due to the economy ‘opening up’ after vaccines became widely available after the worst of Covid in spring 2021. About 6 million jobs were added, April to April. But this were not jobs that were ‘created’, as the politicians like to say. These were jobs that were ‘restored’ after the Covid shutdown. How many actual net new created jobs out of that total are likely not many. However, we’ll never know since the Labor Dept. stats don’t distinguish that.

This could be the greater actual scenario: now that the ‘restored’ jobs have been maximized over this past year, the US economy appears as of this summer 2022 unable now, going forward, to actual create net new jobs—except perhaps in the form of part time work

Part time jobs always rise sharply at the end of a business cycle when the economy enters a recession period.  As the recession deepens, part timers are then first laid off.  Conversely, in early phases of recovery from recession, businesses typically hire more temps (also mostly part timers) as they test the water whether a recovery is truly underway.

The dynamic of the relationship between full time hiring, part time and temp hiring over a business cycle is poorly understood by most economists. The government data don’t help but hinder that understanding.

However, one thing is clear: the US economy is already in recession in early stages as recent GDP data show and, as the data in the CPS survey Tables, A-8 and A-9, corroborate.  These CPS tables reflect the deeper job trends—not the CES Table B-1.

The politicians and media—and the Fed—by focusing on the CES survey’s 528,000 job—and ignoring the CPS part time, total employment and multiple job holder trends are missing the recession that’s already begun.

By the late fourth quarter 2022 the ‘bombshell’ of surging part time and declining full time jobs embedded within the CPS data will have ‘gone off’. The jobs market will no longer lag and the recession will be blatantly obvious. The Fed will have to abruptly halt accelerating its rate hike policy. And the NBER will have to agree after the fact that the so-called ‘technical recession’ that arrived in the first half of 2022 did indeed signal the US economy had entered recession.

For more of Jack Rasmus’s recent analysis on US inflation, US recession, GDP, and global economy, go to the blog: http://jackrasmus.com or tune in to his Friday radio show, Alternative Visions, on the Progressive Radio Network, 2pm eastern; also podcast thereafter at http://alternativevisions.podbean.com.

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The following are some of my quick reflections over the past weekend on last friday’s August 5 US jobs report that’s being hyped as proof of an over-heated labor market and therefore no there’s no US recession yet. But there’s a ‘bombshell’ within the Jobs Report that no one’s talking about, indicating the jobs creation is actually not robust and is actually hitting a wall. See if you can identify what the bombshell is in the report from my initial comments. (An article providing my full analysis of the Report will follow tomorrow, Monday, August 8). In the interim, here’s my initial reflections of the friday jobs report in some quick tweets: (chronological, from most recent first):

#Jobs: why the big gap in July in 2 US jobs surveys CES & CPS–CES, large corps, showing +1.6m jobs since March ’22 vs.CPS, smaller businesses, -110,000 jobs decline? Maybe big corps doing well or haven’t yet joined the jobs contraction while small-medium businesses already laying off

#Jobs: yes, jobs rose roughly by 5 million per Jobs Reports over past 12 months. But bigger fact is that jobs growth hit a wall this past spring, and is about to sharply decline as Fed hikes rates aggressively and US recession deepens. (Yes, Virginia, we are already in recession!)

#Jobs: Households Survey, CPS able A-8, in July Jobs Rept shows net DECLINE total employment of -180,000 from May ’22 thru July ’22. Thus, big gap between the 2 jobs surveys, CES & CPS, as CES (big corps survey), shows +528,000 jobs. So why does media report only CES and not CPS?

#Jobs: Govt monthly jobs reports are from two (contradictory now) surveys: the CES (larger corps reporting to govt) and the CPS (telephone survey of 50-60K households every month, reflecting trends in small businesses. (CES also has problem with seasonality adjustment since Covid)

#Jobs: Govt Jobs Reports don’t represent workers getting new jobs after unemployed. Reports reflect ‘Jobs’ increases not ‘Workers’ newly employed. Thus likely reflect rise of 800,000 part timer ‘jobs’ taking on second jobs (i.e. multiple job holders). This=sign of market weakness

#Jobs: think about this when reading 528,000 ‘new’ jobs created in July in latest Jobs Report: Full time jobs are declining, while part time rises by 800,000 in just July. And 263,000 rise in those with multiple jobs. Could it be business hiring mostly part-timers holding 2nd jobs

#Jobs: here’s another contradiction in latest US Jobs Report: the one job survey (CES) for large corps shows job gain since March of 1.6m. But the other survey of households shows, since March, a net employment drop of -168,000. So which is right? And why the big difference?

#Jobs: don’t get too impressed with 528,000 jobs ‘created’ (really just restored). Why? Jobs lag the economy’s current trend by 6+ months. Report says 32,000 new construction jobs but housing starts have fallen from 900,000 plus to around 570,000. Think there’ll be layoffs soon?

#Jobs: US Labor Dept Jobs Report today says 5.7 million workers still unemployed, in its U-3 category (full time jobs only). Same Jobs Report admits, in its U-6 category (includes part time, temp, gig, discouraged, etc.) that 11.8m still unemployed. Media ‘cherry picks’ the best #

#JobsReport: Key number is not the 528,000 or 3.5% jobless rate. It’s the 800,000 part time workers added, when there was no cut in average hours worked–so it must be mostly new part time hires. Means business growing cautious about hiring, substituting part time for full time

#Wages: How are households coping with the big fall in real wages (inflation up 9.1% over past year but wages only 5.2%)? They’re buying on credit in lieu thereof: consumer credit up record $40B in July after $100B in 2nd qtr. (Student loans now total $1.74 trillion; autos $1.36T)

#Jobs: In today’s Jobs Report, part time employment rises by 800,000 but average hours worked per week no change. Go figure. Furthermore, while official unemployment rate is 3.5% for full time workers only, it’s really 7.2% in same Report’s Table A-15 for all re. actual raw data.

#Jobs: WOW. Mainstream economists (and my) assumption of fewer jobs created last month was too low by 278,000. Reported new jobs 528,000. Watch Fed rate hike another 75 bps now & stocks contract. (But if 538k jobs added, why Job Reports’ Table A-8 shows 110,000 fewer jobs July?)

Listen to my latest short radio interviews on recent economic events–including July US Jobs Report, Sanctions & Fate of $US, Euro Currency Collapse, UK Economic Crisis, Democrat Party strategy in November midterms, OPEC Oil, US Inflation & the Fed

1. Critical Hour Radio (Jobs Report, Sanctions & Fate $, Currency Collapse & UK economy)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1zuCEqj-W42CjXQYrtQst1ctUf39JROwn/view

2. Political Misfits Radio (Dem Party Strategy, OPEC Output Hike, Fracking & Inflation)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1z-bCSUdtgKsMCv8eXV7MOnDWd9sP2lA5/view

Listen to my July 29 Alternative Visions show (55min.) unpacking the results of 2nd Quarter US GDP and my take on the debate whether recession is here or not. Of course it is, notwithstanding official politicos spin to the contrary. Explaining the two definitions of recession & why they always have converged.

TO LISTEN GO TO:
https://alternativevisions.podbean.com/e/alternative-visions-us-2nd%c2%a0quarter-gdp-is-recession-here-what-s-a-recession/

Listen to my 3 short (15min.) radio interviews on US, global economy, sanctions, and related economic issues recorded just before yesterday’s Fed rate hike and today’s US GDP numbers. (Interviews on both Fed rate hike & US GDP 2nd Quarter release to follow soon)

TO LISTEN GO TO:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/15wGCFxvSS1EQ-aXzilabV8D7w2pKsdoY/view

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1tgvEkjpu4pcOnqu7yJbG941H9IPHgCc7/view

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1nWRrQvLqa7y8MD3GAhCWvTQBUW8pr3x0/view

Listen to my Alternative Visions radio show of Friday, July 15, 2022, where the topic of discussion is what’s the impact of the rising US dollar on surging global inflation and recession? How is it the US ‘exports’ both inflation and recession to the rest of the world? What’s the future of a weakening US global economic empire as a US dollar driven global currency crisis emerges?

To Listen GO TO:

https://alternativevisions.podbean.com/e/alternative-visions-1658248367/

SHOW ANNOUNCEMENT

Dr. Rasmus takes up the theme of US global economic empire is in decline and examines that in relation to the role of the US dollar and other US dominated economic institutions like the IMF, SWIFT international payments system, and other institutions of empire. Both short run and long run trends for the dollar and empire are discussed, and likely moves toward more independence from the US empire by economies like the BRICS (and others now joining it) and what that means for the $ and the empire. The show then reviews recent US CPI and PPI inflation numbers of the past week and Fed rate hikes accelerating. US GDP and its components are considered, as well as GDP, inflation, Currency instability, and interest rate developments underway in China, Europe, Japan, and emerging markets. Show concludes with brief discussion of potential financial liquidity crises erupting as inflation and recessions deepen globally, and what markets this might appear

Listen to my Friday, July 8 Alternative Visions radio show where I discuss in depth Biden’s various inflation control proposals and reveal them as just PR. Only real inflation strategy planned by Dems is to let Fed hike rates until it precipitates recession, to destroy consumer Demand, as a solution to what is almost all Supply-Side inflation due to international supply chain problems and corporate price gouging. Also friday’s show discusses Friday’s latest US jobs report for June and explains why the numbers are not what they seem and will soon worsen further as jobs–a lagging indicator–catch up with the slowdown and recession in the US economy by year end.

TO LISTEN GO TO:

https://alternativevisions.podbean.com/e/alternative-visions-biden-s-phony-inflation-initiatives-june-jobs-report/

Interview of Friday, July 2
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1HAvkiDfdxrVLmfKpJCNbKGML9uF5OnLZ/view

Interview of Tuesday, June 28

https://drive.google.com/file/d/19J_-6lT3iF104yMQzi_ZOfsyjgH3t_gz/view

Periodically, my readers ask where my views ‘fit’ in the spectrum of left–and even Marxist–economists and economics. The following is my reply to a reader inquiring to that point. Specifically, the inquiry asked how my views differ from those of Michael Hudson, Michael Roberts, and Richard Wolff–as well as where my views fit in relation to Marx’s economics and what’s called Heterodox economics.

Dr. RASMUS REPLY:

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I have a somewhat different take on Hudson, Roberts, and Wolff, while recognizing they all make important contributions on the left to the critique of contemporary US capitalism.

That said, to elaborate on my prior comments on the three:

Hudson is very good on critiquing finance capital but should reformulate his useful critique of global finance capital into a more coherent critique of contemporary US imperialism. For that, however, he’d have to move closer to a Marxist economic analysis, restating his contributions to the role of finance capital to imperialism in the 21st century. Hudson’s a version of ‘Left Minskyanism’ (like Steve Keen and others). Hudson also has little to say about the working class and how capitalism is intensifying worker exploitation at the level of labor markets. That’s probably because he has few experiences or roots in the working class itself. Should he restate and integrate his views on finance capital more in relation to working class experience and US imperialism it would improve his critique of Capital, which is still too one dimensional. However, should he do that I think he’d cut off some of his consulting contacts which he enjoys doing. As for his ‘debt jubilee’ idea, as he now formulates it, it is politically a non starter and makes him appear as hopelessly utopian (not unlike Utopian Socialists that Marx critiqued). That said, I agree the debt question needs to be better addressed by Marxists. Debt is one of late, contemporary capitalism’s devices to keep itself going, as well as a means to expand exploitation of labor more efficiently. Debt is also a contradiction for capital, a weakness of capitalism driving it toward more frequent financial crises. And one must distinguish debt in relation to worker households, business debt, and govt debt. They’re different but interrelated, especially when crises occur. Finally, debt magnitude alone is not the problem; it’s the ability to finance (pay for) it when crises depress cash flow (by households, business or govts) and thus prevent the servicing of that debt. That’s when debt crises erupt. Finally, that means Hudson’s debt jubilee is class neutral, which is a mistake. Do we really want to wipe out all capitalist investors’ speculative debt? Is it the same as working class household debt or even local government debt? In short, Hudson’s ‘debt jubilee’ needs a more class analysis and recommendation.

As for Roberts, he does good work too. His blog is worth reading if you can get by his almost fetish preoccupation with Marx’s unpublished proposition of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall as the primary, almost sole, cause of short term capitalist business cycle crises. Roberts is an example of the limits of much of anglo-american marxist economic analysis, which doesn’t understand finance capital in the current era and how it is destabilizing their own system.  The reason for his failure to understand this is that rigid interpretation of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall proposition found in Marx’s unpublished volumes of Capital. Roberts thinks that’s the prime driver of capitalist crises, including depressions. I don’t. Nor do I agree we’re in a ‘long depression’ era. We’re in a very volatile era of capitalist minimal growth periods and frequent economic downturns. That’s not a depression. But he distorts the idea of depression to fit his data that shows a clear slowing of real asset investment since 2000 (i.e. capital accumulation slowdown), which I agree is occurring. However we differ as to why. His explanation again is the falling rate of profit tendency which I don’t think is the answer. That answer is more complex. But he tends toward that falling rate single causal explanation. The falling rate tendency was never accepted by Marx as the primary driver of capitalist business cycles (which Roberts suggests). In fact, it had nothing to do with short term business cycle fluctuations, whether recessions, great recessions, or depressions. It was more a long run supply side explanation for capitalism’s inevitable trajectory toward breakdown.

Roberts, Kliman and other anglo-american ‘marxists’ are inferior in their analysis of current capitalism compared to some of the Europeans and Chinese who are more willing to acknowledge global 21st century capital has changed from Marx’s mid-19th century, especially in the area of finance capital and technological change.

In reply to where I stand in relation to these three (who all do make useful, though partial, contributions to analysis) you might want to read my forthcoming lengthy article in the Beijing, World Review of Political Economy later this year entitled: ‘The Changing Character of Late Capitalist Exploitation in Production and Exchange’, where I look at the implications of Artificial Intelligence and other next generation technologies on exploitation of the working class and capitalist evolution, as well as in the piece on what Marx called ‘secondary exploitation’ (exploitation via exchange relations)

I do not have the same optimistic view of producers coops, workers self-management, etc. that Richard Wolff has.  While it’s good to educate workers they are more important to capitalists than capitalists are to them, and that they could run their businesses in a socialist economy, to employ producers coops as a means of defeating capitalism and getting to socialism is misleading at best.  Coops are tolerated by capitalism (in Europe but not in US). They’ll let workers dabble in it, in insignificant sectors but never allow it to expand. Where coops work (e.g. Spain) it’s because the capitalists tolerate it. We should be proposing political strategies to contend for the institutions of capitalist state power. That’s the only road to change. To use Marx’s terminology: political relations must first change before economic relations in production can do so. There’s no short cuts. Capitalists can and will prevent coops from evolving into a threat–especially US capitalists. It will take an independent new party for real change, not producer coops. That ‘organizational question’ is the only real question before the left today. Nothing will really change without it being resolved first. But Wolff doesn’t sufficiently address that question (nor Roberts or Hudson at all). That’s because he’s a lifelong academic and has no experience or background in the working class to draw upon, I believe. That’s true also for Hudson. I’m not sure of Roberts, who appears to have come out of some corporate financial background.

As for my own work, I started out as a labor economist–after spending 15 years in the union movement at the grass roots level (not some staff job as an organizer, rep, local elected officer, negotiator, strike coordinator, etc.  I then spent 19 years in tech companies analyzing markets & technology evolution. Only then, at age 60 did I enter academia and, like yourself, as an adjunct (by choice to enable time to write), for the past 15 yrs.(during which I helped organize St. Marys college and negotiate its first contract + did a 3 yr. stint as national VP for national Writers Union, UAW 1989)  I keep contacts with union former acquaintances in various unions. I evolved into a macro economist along the way, and then a macro analyst increasingly focused on finance capital and its role in American imperialism.

I respect the work of the late Keynesian, Hyman Minsky (as does Hudson, who I’d call a ‘left Minskyan’). There’s much in Keynes’ original works still of value and relevance. As for Marx, he’s still very much fundamental. The system still runs on labor exploitation at its core. But Marx’s economics needs to be brought into the 21st century. Mid-19th century European (and esp. English) capitalism was undeveloped in terms of money, banking, and finance compared to today. Anglo-American Marxists like Roberts, Kliman and other are content to just repeat mid-19th century Marx as stated, as if capitalism stopped evolving ever since. They prefer to select quotes and passages from Marx and then fit them into today’s capitalist world. Like fitting square pegs in round holes. They’re more marxist philologists than economists.

If you want to follow the evolution of my own economic views, I suggest first my 2010 book, ‘Epic Recession: Prelude to Depression’ (Pluto press or available my blog). The first half of that book is a theoretical critique of Keynes, Minsky, and others; the second half is an economic history analysis of the 2008-10 crash, including the mutual role of financial and real asset cycles behind the crash.

A further view of my take on European contemporary imperialism is my 2015 book, ‘Looting Greece: A New Financial Imperialism Emerges’, Clarity Press (emphasis on the imperialism and specifically how financial imperialism works in Europe as an extension of Hobson-Hilferding-Lenin’s views on ‘Imperialism’ at early 20th century.

My 2016 book, ‘Systemic Fragility in the Global Economy‘ (Clarity 2017) entire second half is a review and critique of Economic theory from Smith and the classicalists to Marx, to the post-Marx neoclassical attack on Marx, to Keynes (in the original not the bastardized versions of Keynes), contemporary ‘mechanical’ marxists (as I call them) to Minsky. That book’s last chapter concludes with my own theoretical views at the time (5 yrs ago) integrating financial cycles and real cycles analyses.  It’s an extension and innovation on views of Keynes, Minsky, and Marx, concluding with a first pass at an equation representing ‘fragility’ in the global capitalist system in the 21st century-where fragility is a term that represents likelihood of a financial instability event.

My 2018 book, ‘Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes‘ is a critique of both theory and practices of capitalist central banks–i.e. of monetary theory and ‘monetarism’ in theory. It traces the history of central banks and monetary theory from the formation of the Federal Reserve in 1913 to present and includes other major central banks in Europe, China, etc. A prequel describing the evolution of central banks from 1780 to 1913, and US depressions along the way, is my 2020 book, ‘Alexander Hamilton and the Origins of the Fed‘, Lexington books.

My forthcoming World review of Political Economy article noted above is a foray into explaining (and expanding) Marxist exploitation theory in light of the last 4 decades of capitalist evolution in general, and specifically where that’s going in the wake of widespread implementation of Artificial Intelligence, 5G, cybersecurity, cloud computing, etc. technologies. Finally, I’ll address some of the themes further in my forthcoming book, ‘The Viral Economy and Its Consequences‘. It’s both a further economic theory analysis as well as an analysis of US economic policy evolution in the most recent stage of Neoliberalism, and thus a continuation of that historical policy evolution of Neoliberalism since 1980 and Reaganomics, as described in my 2020 book, ‘The Scourge of Neoliberalism: US Economic Policy from Reagan to Trump‘, Clarity, 2020.

Well, there you have my own perspectives and how they differ theoretically from the works of Hudson, Roberts, and Wolff. I’m probably more a ‘political’ economist than they, who is deeply critical of bourgeois economics (which is mostly ideology) but which deserves attention where it’s not ideology. I’m more focused on capitalist economic policy and its evolution, not just theory. In theory I believe Keynes, Minsky and others–not just Marx–have made worthwhile contributions to understanding capitalism. I’m also more focused on the American Empire and imperialism than the three (Hudson, Roberts, even Wolff) and why it’s the greatest danger as the US empire weakens and its current neocon-capitalist-political elites strike out more aggressively to try to restore their hegemony.  I’m also more concerned with the changes of capitalist technologies today and their impact on the working class and unions (what Marx would call ‘forces of production’).

Most marxist economists today would probably not call me a marxist economist since I’m not reluctant to critique Marx where his views need further development after 150 years; nor critiquing Lenin since his views on Imperialism require upgrading as well. Today’s Marxist economists would probably call me a revisionist (when in fact all I intend is to not become a marxist philologist–or ‘mechanical’ marxist–like them). Marx’s Capital can’t be treated as a bible, where every passage or proposition is considered fixed and eternally true exactly as stated. That’s to turn Marx’s economics into a form of ideology.

Economically, I’m somewhere well left of Minsky and his epigones like Keen and Hudson on the one hand, and closer to European marxists like Heinrich and some Chinese, than to Anglo-American traditional immutable Marxism. I’m not really a heterodox economist either, whose analyses is ‘all over the block’ as they say, tend toward single issue analyses, and much of which is at the service of Identity politics, the latter of which I personally reject as a scourge on the American left.

Hope that helps clarify your query as to where I stand in terms of economic theory and differ re. the three others (Hudson, Roberts, Wolff), who all do good work in their own limited way and are worth reading but who are but precursors to a more accurate and complete analysis of 21st century capitalism and imperialism.

Jack Rasmus7-2-22

1. On G7 Meeting & New Sanctions

https://drive.google.com/file/d/19J_-6lT3iF104yMQzi_ZOfsyjgH3t_gz/view

2. On Fed Rates & Coming Recession

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1U4nI4q79z3FPzBiENCqr8ZWrX-j_aIz9/view

3. On Current US Inflation

https://drive.google.com/file/d/15zmb7gQgcYmTrReizujgg-MEvUOzMgiz/view