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"Alternative Perspectives on the Global Economic Crisis"

Marxist economist sheds light on future economics

By Allen Knappenberger
On February 28, 2012

  • Dr. Prabhat Patnaik’s “Alternative Perspectives on the Global Economic Crisis” presentation filled every seat in a Centennial Hall lecture room. Dr. Patnaik proposed that financial opposition to State intervention was preventing world citizens from gaining food and employment. Hannahrose Rand The Racquet

The current economic crisis that is plaguing our nation is one of great debate and is the topic of almost every situation, whether it is employment, getting into college, or just something one may need to express their opinion on. Luckily for the UW-La Crosse, we have been given a background as to why this economy is in the state that it's in.

Last Thursday, February 23, 2012, the world leading Marxist economist, Prabhat Patnaik, came to Centennial Hall to give a speech he entitled, "Alternative Perspectives on the Global Economic Crisis." Patnaik went over many ideas as to what a crisis involves, how a nation might deal with a crisis and how history has played a role into the current global economic crisis.

The main point of Patnaik's speech was  to discuss the financial crises many nations face. Money has always been at the root of problems within societies, nations, and the world. And the United States is usually associated with financial crises when it comes down to the economy.

"The United States government intervened in order to resolve the financial crisis. The financial sector has lost confidence in itself. The resolution required the government to set aside $700 billion to satisfy employment, which, in turn, was used to help offset the cuts in expenditures for the U.S.," Patnaik said.

The government had to get involved in the financial crisis within the U.S. in order to make sure that people were getting jobs and maintaining those jobs while also being able to help with the cuts to other various departments and issues in the U.S. $700 billion sounds like a lot of money, but in relation to what the government has to work with, it's only a minor set-back.

A sub-issue presented by Patnaik was this idea that "unemployment is an impossibility in a system in which markets are allowed to function freely." Free functioning markets allow for variability and the unknown. Patnaik mentioned that there could be jobs waiting for the unemployed in the economy, but they just may not know where that job is or how they are going to obtain it. The fact of the matter is that unemployment is never involuntary; there is always something for someone to do.

The financial crisis gets even deeper than just having the government set aside money to cover all the areas that may be stagnant and the fact that some believe unemployment is not their choice. This crisis also deals with the idea of supply and demand.

Patnaik suggested that imports and exports have a lot to do with the financial crisis many countries are facing. If the supply for an export is great, but the demand to ship it out is not, a country may find itself in a financial struggle. The same is true if a country cannot handle imports. Often the case is simple: if one country doesn't have the money to export their materials, then another country will not receive that export. It is a vicious circle, but always relates to supply and demand.

Patnaik continued to discuss issues that related to past history and programs that were implemented to help sustain the economy, however some of those programs failed to do so. The rest of his speech gave insight into the types of stimuli that create a crisis, where a deficit comes from and how to handle it, as well as free flow of commodities and how they contribute to the present day crisis. With a packed house and hushed silence for over an hour, one could see an attentive audience that was eager to listen and learn what Patnaik had to say about economic crises.


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