REVIEW: Obama’s Economy: Recovery for the Few

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Henry Parkyn-Smith has reviewed Jack Rasmus’ latest book, Obama’s Economy: Recovery for the Few (Pluto, 2012) in Counterfire earlier this month.

We’ve reproduced an extract of the overwhelmingly positive article here, but you can read the full thing by going to Counterfire.org. Jack’s book is currently available for just £7.28 including free UK P&P, as part of our Online Mega-sale! But hurry – the offer ends on 31st Jan…

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American capitalism continues to veer off the rails, full steam ahead, with one fiscal cliff after another looming, while it drags most of the major world economies behind it. In this context, Jack Rasmus’ dissection of the state of Obama’s economic policy, promises and plans is as pertinent as ever. The most important aspect of his analysis, which distinguishes Rasmus from so many other economists and the mainstream popular discourse surrounding the current financial catastrophe, is that it is framed terms of who the downturn is damaging and what the recovery is supporting. This is the super rich against the working class, profits against unemployment.

Three overarching themes run through the book. The first of these focuses on the lack of recovery, how deep the crisis is, as well as how and why there seem to be few signs of the crisis abating. The second outlines that what recovery there has been is unequal, and how Obama’s regime has acted to support the rich at the expense of the majority of working Americans. Finally, Rasmus proposes a set of alternatives, drawing on ideas of how the US economy can get back on its feet without selling ordinary Americans down the river.

One thing for which Jack Rasmus is perhaps best known is being one of the few economists who saw at very early stages of the crisis that the collapse of Lehman Brothers was much more than a blip. He continues to focus on long term trends and their significance throughout his analysis of the state of the US economy. The book and its analysis and predictions could be viewed to be in many ways vindicated as a large proportion of trends identified here have continued and perhaps become more pronounced since its publication in April 2012. The gulf between rich and poor continues to grow, as do the pronounced housing crisis and the high levels of unemployment. In addition to this, Rasmus makes a strong case for the possibility of a double, and possibly triple, dip recession in the US. This all boils down to the fact that this is the most severe of all eleven US recessions since 1945, as well as being the most lopsided in its impact (p.6).

Reading Obama’s Economy, coming from the perspective of the UK and European economies, there are several striking differences. In terms of lopsidedness, it is interesting to see how, whereas on this side of the Atlantic the ruling elites are fairly clear that they intend to cut public spending and essentially make us pay for the crisis, the Obama administration in contrast does not talk about cuts, but implements them nonetheless, in addition to initiating further policies at the top that result in the poorest being the hardest hit. Given this, one of the key tasks that Rasmus takes on, which stands out and is rarely done so well, is the refutation of the notion that Obama is economically progressive. Within the Democratic Party, Obama is in fact one of the most conservative figures: not only were his pre-election promises neo-liberal and pro-business, the policies he actually implemented during his first term could be seen as being even more so…

Read more…

Obama’s Economy

Recovery for the Few

Jack Rasmus

Informed critical economist takes Obama to task for presiding over a failing and unequal US economy.

“Everybody else talked of the Lehman crisis as a blip, but Rasmus got it right: his concept of ‘epic recession’ describes what happened, in America and in the Western world. In this trenchant critique of Obama’s stimulus measures, he asks searching questions about the scale of the actions taken and the suitability of their design. With orthodox economics coming under strain, Rasmus’ unorthodox economics is a refreshing counter-argument to the mainstream.” – Paul Mason, BBC Newsnight Economics Editor and author of Meltdown

“Obama was elected because he represented hope and the expectation of change. But as Rasmus shows, little changed for tens of millions of unemployed, homeowners, and those dependant on government services. Rasmus describes in detail how Obama was the most conservative and business-oriented of the Democratic candidates in 2008, and how his first-term economic policies reflected that orientation.” – Chuck Mack, International Vice-President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union

£14.99 only £13.00 on the Pluto site

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