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 U.S.-Led Imperialism in Deeper Financial And Economic Crises

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Source: Peking Review, No. 25, June 20, 1969
Transcribed by www.wengewang.org


THE general crisis of capitalism has become still more acute as the people's revolutionary struggle throughout the world rolls on, striking heavy blows at U.S.-led imperialism. The Western imperialist countries now find themselves facing more and more serious financial and economic difficulties. Finance, already assailed with pecks of trouble, has to pass through squall after perilous squall. Long in a bad shape, production is threatened with an overwhelming crisis, too.

Worsening Financial and Monetary Crisis

     The feebleness, decay and decline of imperialism is especially strongly felt in the financial and monetary field. The monetary crisis sweeping the entire Western world over the past 18 months has rocked the imperialist countries headed by the United States. Frequent storms have violently battered at three main currencies of the Western world — first the British pound, next the U.S. dollar and then the French franc. The Western monetary system with the U.S. dollar as the kingpin has time and again skidded to the verge of collapse, and this has given the entire capitalist system some nasty jolts. There were ominous clouds of still worse storms to come since the beginning of 1969. At the end of April a new storm of crisis crashed down on the financial centres in the West,
     The Western world's current financial and monetary crisis, the biggest in 40 years, broke out at a time when the financial and monetary situation was not going well at all with the imperialist countries. This was particularly true of the three major imperialist countries — the United States, Britain and France — which got bogged down one after another in serious financial and monetary difficulties. Constant budgetary deficits, growing inflation, rising prices and mounting government and private debts — these were common maladies for practically all the imperialist countries, the United States being the worst hit.
     The United States has registered huge deficits in 17 out of the 23 post-war years, with only slight surpluses in the remaining six years. This is due to the U.S. policy of feverish aggression and expansion. To make up for the deficits, American ruling circles issued government securities and paper money without restraint. The result was vicious inflation and soaring prices at home. Moreover, the United States has had deficits in international payments for many years. By the end of 1968, its gold reserves had dropped to some 10,800 million dollars, or less than half of the 1949 figure. This is far from enough to pay off one-third of the foreign held short-term dollar claims, which total more than 33,000 million dollars. The high and mighty "dollar empire" of the early post-war days has now become a hopeless insolvent up-to-the-neck debtor. All this has shaken the dominant position of the U.S. dollar, a symbol of the financial and economic strength of U.S. imperialism, in the Western world.
     As for the British pound, which is closely connected to the U.S. dollar, its perilous position reflects the come-down of the "British empire" as well as the weakness of the U.S. financial and economic position. Britain has been going downhill financially and economically since the end of World War II, owing to the disintegration of the British colonial empire and intensified competition among the imperialist powers. Deficits in international payments have appeared year after year. Gold and foreign exchange reserves have dropped to a little more than 1,000 million pounds, while foreign debts have reached more than 5,000 million pounds. In these circumstances, sterling has become the most vulnerable link in the whole Western monetary system. The pound fell hopelessly into the grip of a crisis in the winter of 1967. The United States, too busy fending for itself in a dollar crisis, could hardly come to Britain's rescue in any useful way. Britain was thus obliged to announce the devaluation of the pound for a second time since the end of World War II. This touched off a financial crisis in the West. Unable to weather the storm, the pound has remained in a vulnerable position despite that devaluation, an indication of the extreme gravity of Britain's financial and monetary crisis.
     France's financial and monetary vulnerability and its crisis came to a head last year. After the nationwide struggle of the workers and students in May and June, French and foreign capitalists both grew very uneasy about the country's economic prospects. They hurriedly transferred their capital to other countries. The flight of capital and huge foreign trade deficits led to last year's 40 per cent, decline in gold and foreign exchange reserves. When rumours of an impending franc devaluation gained widespread belief in Western financial centres last November, a stampede to sell francs broke out, and the Western world for the third time had a big storm of monetary crisis on its hands. Since the beginning of 1969, capital outflow and trade deficits have increased while France's gold and foreign exchange reserves have dropped still further. Shortly before and after de Gaulle's resignation at the end of April, the financial centres in Western Europe fell over each other to get rid of francs. For France the franc crisis has now become worse than ever.
     Since the United States, Britain and France, which hold a pivotal position in the capitalist world, are all bogged down in a financial and monetary crisis and the dollar, pound and franc have all become extremely shaky, it is only natural that the entire imperialist bloc has little room for manoeuvre in this monetary crisis. For all their "emergency measures" they have failed to bring about any fundamental change in the situation. The battered and dilapidated financial and monetary ship of the capitalist world is being tossed about in stormy seas and may capsize at any time.

All-Round Production Crisis Threatened

     As the financial and monetary crisis deepens from day to day, the U.S.-led imperialist countries run into serious trouble in the production sphere. Markets at home and abroad have shrunk, and this causes a sharpening contradiction between production and marketing. In varying degrees, some imperialist countries have gone through four to five economic crises since the end of the war. Piled-up stocks, under-capacity operation and serious unemployment are common features in nearly all imperialist countries.
  Four economic crises hit the United States in the 16 years between the end of World War II and 1961, each with a shorter cycle than the previous one. U.S. ruling circles then desperately stepped up military spending, the more so since launching their war of aggression against Viet Nam in 1965. Life-saving injections were given to the economy in the form of military orders amounting to tens of billions of dollars a year as a measure to stave off a new crisis. Though this brought a fleeting "boom" to some war industries, it could by no means extricate the economy from the difficulties caused by shrinking markets. Since the beginning of this year, overhanging dangers have cast tlirir shadow over the economic sphere. Steel, auto and construction, the ''three mainstays" of the U.S. economy, have stagnated or dwindled. Retail sales have on the whole remained at the same level since last August, while inventories are rising rapidly. There is every sign of a serious "over-production" crisis brewing in the country.
  Economic development in Britain has been sluggish ever since the war. Industrial production has failed to recover since the fourth post-war economic crisis in 1966-67. British goods, weak in competitive power in foreign markets, are steadily giving way to other competitors in their traditional commonwealth market, and are even being challenged in the home market by ever sharper competition from goods of foreign origin.
     Industrial production in France is also in a very bad way. Since last October, the slowed-down rate of growth in production, especially conspicuous in 1967, is back again and very marked too.
     Even in West Germany where production has developed faster than in the other imperialist countries since World War II, the country was overtaken by an economic crisis in 1966-67, the worst of its kind in the post-war years. Industrial production kept falling for 12 straight months during that crisis.
  It is worth noting that as conditions for an "overproduction" crisis ripen, whatever power these imperialist countries may have to deal with the monetary crisis is greatly restricted. Consequently, there is increasing danger that a financial crisis might break out alongside an "over-production" crisis.
     The U.S.-led imperialists are greatly perturbed and alarmed by the grave financial and monetary crisis. The turmoil on the New York and London stock exchanges and the spiralling of the gold price on the "free markets" in Western Europe since the beginning of 1969 have profoundly reflected the imperialists* anxiety about their future. But the imperialists will never step down from the stage of history of their own accord. They are struggling desperately to drag out their precarious existence.

Imperialism in Last-Ditch Struggle

     In the abyss of crisis, the imperialist countries are warring for survival, each trying its best to do the other in. There are overt and covert struggles to shift the crisis on to each other, and the trade, tariff, interest-rate and monetary wars as of last year have reached their highest pitch since World War II, greatly widening the split within the imperialist bloc. But every single imperialist country is a broken reed. The fiercer their internal strife, the sooner their doom.
     The imperialists have also redoubled their efforts to shift their losses in the financial and economic crises on to the working people of their own country* They increase taxation, freeze wages, raise prices and swell the armies of unemployed. These regressive actions have not only led to a steady falling off in the real' purchasing power of broad sections of the people and the shrinkage of the domestic market, but have also continually sharpened the class contradictions in these countries. Last year saw vigorous struggles launched by the working people and students in the United States and the West European countries. They have dealt the ruling circles heavy blows and plunged them into a more profound political crisis. Thus, the interweaving of serious financial, economic and political crises is speeding up the doom of imperialism headed by the United States.
     Imperialism means war. The imperialists have always tried to get themselves out of crises by resorting to wars of aggression as a "way out.'' U.S. imperialism is at present making a frantic bid to carry out its arms drive and war preparations and is feverishly pushing ahead with its policies of aggression and war everywhere in the world. But the days of imperialism doing what it liked have gone for ever. If imperialism dares to start a new war against the revolutionary people of the world, it will be besieged and pummelled by the people all the more relentlessly. It will only accelerate its own doom.
     Our great teacher Chairman Mao pointed out long ago that "the imperialists have fallen inextricably into crisis" and that "imperialism will not last long." The hopeless situation of imperialism headed by the United States has borne out these brilliant statements.
  
  
  

 
 
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