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The Influence Of September 11. Essay

2922 words - 12 pages

The Influence of September 11On the American EconomyThe atrocious attacks on New York's twin towers were aimed at an iconic symbol of US wealth and economic domination. Among the thousands of lives claimed by the suicide attackers were many low-paid cleaners, shop and office workers, and also undocumented immigrant workers laboring under the tyranny of neo-liberal economic laws. At the same time, the bombers did inflict massive damage on the world's biggest financial centre and on the important air transport industry, and sent shock waves through the US and world economy. What will be the effects on the world economy over the coming months and the next few years?THE UNKNOWABLE CONSEQUENCES of likely US military action and its repercussions make it difficult to predict the trajectory of the world economy. Nevertheless, it is already clear that the events of 11 September will reinforce and aggravate the serious worldwide downturn into which the global economy was already rapidly sinking. In periods of sustained economic upswing, the US and other major capitalist powers can sustain a serious shock and bear the economic overheads of a costly strategic response. Dealing with a similar crisis in a downturn, however, is a different matter.This crisis has hit the US as it was already facing serious economic difficulties. Since the beginning of 2000 the US economy has been steadily moving towards a recession, probably quite a deep recession even without the recent events. This was not merely a cyclical downturn, but reflected the undermining of the conditions which gave rise to the 1980s boom and the even bigger boom of the late 1990s.The recent boom was driven by financial speculation, unprecedented levels of debt, and a heavy dependency by the US on an inflow of capital from overseas. Even before 11 September the strategists of US capitalism were at last beginning to grapple with the serious structural problems which have developed. Only the continuation of a relatively high level of consumer spending, just beginning to be eroded by the development of unemployment, especially in the manufacturing sector, held the economy back from a sharp slump.Despite falls on the stock exchange since the collapse of technology stocks in March last year, shares remained overvalued in relation to company profits, which have been sharply falling. Even without the knee-jerk reaction to the attacks on New York and Washington, there would have been further falls, possibly sharp falls at a certain point. Not surprisingly, the attacks brought the biggest stock exchange falls since 1929-31 - inevitably echoed by similar falls on stock exchanges around the world. These falls will wipe out a large share of the so-called 'wealth effect', the propensity of investors to invest more and consumers to spend more on the basis of the growth of their financial (and property) assets. Share prices, moreover, are only likely to recover on the basis of a general revival of the economy, and...

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