RD Wolff: The Recession isn’t Over, but is Capitalism?

Unemployment is down and the stock market is up. So we’re in a recovery, right? Many politicians and economists would like us to think that, but in this Upstream Podcast “Sneak Peak”, Professor Richard D. Wolff explains how this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Not only is the recession that started in 2008 far from over, but we might actually be witnessing the collapse of capitalism as we know it.

You may recall earlier this year when Donald Trump tried to explain to the American people what the real unemployment rate was. What he was trying to do was to explain how the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports misleadingly low unemployment numbers because of how they define being “unemployed”. Although he did an embarrassingly poor job of explaining it – and his figure of a 42% real unemployment rate is absurdly high – he had a point. The official numbers don’t show the full reality because they don’t include people who have stopped looking for work. The official unemployment rate masks the more stark reality that there are many who have simply left the workforce.

And what about the stock market going up? Well, Professor Wolff reminds us that 1% of all shareholders own two-thirds of all shares. So the stock market going up is good news for a small number of relatively well-off individuals, but for the majority of the American population it doesn’t bare much significance. And further, Professor Wolff argues that the stock market is artificially high. What comes up, must come down – and our current capitalist system has proven this to us time and time again.

So, if the unemployment rate and the stock market are false measures of economic health, and if things are actually much worse than they seem – where does that leave us? Well, it’s not quite clear. But Professor Wolff sees many signs that our capitalist economic system is going to collapse. “Every economic system before capitalism – and we’ve had quite a few – was born, evolved over time, and died…And for the first time in my life, I think it’s possible that this system is done.” So what comes next? Professor Wolff has some ideas that he shares in this Upstream Podcast “Sneak Peak.”

Professor Richard D. Wolff

Professor Richard Wolff studied economics at Harvard, Stanford, and Yale. He is the author of the recent book Capitalism’s Crisis Deepens, the founder of Democracy @ Work, host of the radio program Economic Update, and is currently teaching at the New School University in NYC.

Upstream Podcast

Upstream is a podcast about economics that isn’t boring. We specialize in documentaries focusing on cutting-edge themes within the economic and political world. Professor Wolff will be featured in our upcoming episode on Universal Basic Income, which will be released in 2017. You can find that and much more at upstreampodcast.org and through the links below.

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