Critical Economics

Riccardo Bellofiore: we need a class and gender new deal

Web conference with Professor Riccardo Bellofiore, professor of monetary economics and history of economic thought at the University of Bergamo.

Riccardo Bellofiore has been one of the most astute analysts of the Euro crisis. In this web conference we discuss what went wrong in the global economy, the link between the global and European crisis, whether the Eurozone can be saved, the role of trade unions and politics in the EU crisis and the economic situation in Italy.

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Bellofiore starts by explaining the reasons for the financial crisis in 2008, which are more complex than many people realise. He then analyses how a global crisis became a crisis of the Eurozone.

He argues that because the single currency in Europe is not supported by political sovereignty and there is no European public spending limit, the Euro crisis has unfolded without restraint. Bellofiore also claims that the ECB (European Central Bank) does not act as a bank of last resort for countries struggling in the crisis. The ECB can also increase interest rates regardless of price rises therefore, the bank itself in its flaws is undisguised.

Primarily, the European crisis is not just a financial crisis, fundamentally it is a capitalist crisis. It cannot be solved until this is recognised and there is a political shift to the left in European politics. The political ideologies of the ‘right’ are not working.

Bellofiore points out that this is a gendered crisis, with women being particularly hard hit, and being forced to pick up the slack where the state and society has failed. Therefore a response also needs to be gendered.

There is no solution outside of the Eurozone. The crisis is also continent-wide, so there are no national solutions. While Bellofiore discusses some of the technical solutions – such as Yanis Varoufakis’ Eurobonds and raising wages – these on their own are not enough. Because this is a crisis of capitalism and not just finance, a more radical solution is required.

The solution is for unions, the left and progressive forces to come together across Europe and demand a class and gender New Deal. This requires coordinated action by the left across the continent, which would include strikes. The state in particular has an important role to play as employer of last resort.

FInally, he analyses the position of Italy in this crisis.

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