Der Wirtschaftshistoriker Adam Tooze äußert sich im Interview zu den gesellschaftlichen und wirtschaftlichen Folgen des Corona-Schocks. Vor allem stellt er die gewünschte Verbindung zur Klimapolitik her:
- Frage: „What did you see as the most pernicious, outdated assumption shaping global politics before COVID? And to what extent is the present crisis awakening policy-makers to the obsolescence of that idea?“ – Antwort: „(…) I think it’s the householder analogy about the limits on deficit spending, which was one of the absolutely key elements of that consensus of the 1990s. This idea that there are hard-and-fast limits to debt sustainability and that governments that spent too much and ran large deficits would face the wrath of the all-powerful bond market. That story suited a wide range of opinion; it could be used to describe the workings of global capitalism or to indict them. For better or worse, though, it just appears obsolete.“ – bto: Ich verstehe es so, dass es keine Budgetrestriktion gibt, der Staat kann Geld beliebig ausgeben. Schulden sind kein Problem mehr.
- „(….) in this crisis, it has once again proved possible for large economies with credible central banks to borrow on an epic scale without suffering financial-market disruption. And this is because of a dirty little secret about very large holders of private capital: In moments of crisis, they’ve got to put that capital somewhere. And where they always end up putting it is government debt because that’s the safest port in a storm. That may seem like a technical point. But I think it bears on the much broader question about what the limits on state spending in a crisis actually are. And I think if 2008 had not already demonstrated that government debt is the only game in town at the moment of maximum crisis, 2020 has really driven it home. And so there is little difficulty in finding financing for government action.“ – bto: Das gilt nicht für alle Staaten und hängt vor allem eng mit der Notenbank zusammen.
- „But this lesson about the fiscal capacity of states in times of crisis applies more broadly.(…) That, to me, is the single most important break in the ideology of the 1980s and 1990s. Does that open the door to a more progressive politics? Of course it might.“ – bto: „more progressive politics“, tja, was könnte er damit meinen? Nun, zum Beispiel einen notenbankfinanzierten Kampf gegen den Klimawandel?
- Frage: „Why has the balance of power between governments and bondholders shifted so dramatically?“ – Antwort: „(…) I would point to three elements. One is the political economy of inflation: the notion that democratic politics tend toward inflation. That was at the core of the entire complex of thinking around both central-bank independence and this idea of aggressive capital markets that defend the interests of wealth-holders against publics that are always trying to take that wealth away, whether through taxes or inflation. But the engine of this political economy was class antagonism. And that’s gone now because — as Warren Buffett has said — the class war is over, and his side won. And that changes the entire game.“ – bto: Das klingt gewagt. Die Politik muss also nicht mehr gebremst werden, Vermögen zu enteignen? Das mag für die USA gelten, für Deutschland definitiv nicht.
- Frage: „In other words, back when workers claimed a larger share of income gains, the economy was more vulnerable to inflation. Which is ostensibly because working people spend more of what they earn than rich people do (…).“ – Antwort: „That is one aspect of it, yes. But there is a separate, related element, which is that central banks have shifted position. There’s the famous moment in the early 1990s, when Federal Reserve chair Alan Greenspan confronted the Clinton administration (…) that cutting the deficit was a prerequisite for bringing down interest rates. This is the moment that generates the famous James Carville quip about how he used to think that he wanted to be reborn as the president or the pope or a baseball hitter, but then he realized that it was better to be the bond market, since the bond market can intimidate anybody. Well, the bond market’s power to intimidate presidents depended on a particular configuration of force within the American state apparatus, of which the Federal Reserve — and its antagonistic relationship to progressive politics (which goes back to Paul Volcker in the late 1970s) — was a key element.“ – bto: Wir erinnern uns daran, dass Volcker nur so die Inflation beenden konnte.
- „(…) if you have a proactive central bank aligned with the government — in a state like the U.S., which has a great deal of sovereignty over monetary affairs — then that bond market will not be able to veto the government’s fiscal policies because the central bank can outbid them. If the bondholders want to protest the government’s fiscal profligacy by selling their Treasuries, fine — the central bank just buys them. So if Greenspan had been willing to do that, the Clinton administration wouldn’t have been constrained in the way that it believed itself to be.“ – bto: Tooze argumentiert hier praktisch entlang der Linie von MMT – mit den dabei unweigerlichen Nebenwirkungen hinsichtlich der Preisstabilität.
- „(…) the third element of the story is the overall balance between saving and investing in the global economy. Now this is an area that’s opaque and hugely contested among economists. But something did clearly shift in that area. Whether it’s a fall of investment demand in advanced economies, or the accumulation of excess reserves in the emerging market economies, or the specific reserve strategies of China — which has injected huge demand into the American bond market — all of those features add up to a quite fundamental shift in the balance of demand and supply of safe assets.“ – bto: die Badewannentheorie. Man könnte auch sagen, dass wir seit Jahren auf Schulden statt Einkommen setzen und erst so die Ungleichgewichte provoziert haben.
- „The single thing that is most different from the ’90s is that orthodoxy just doesn’t seem very strong right now. We’re in a state of ferment. Much more so than in 2009, when people were just so panicked; they’d never seen quantitative easing before, and it was all a bit strange and weird. And then we kind of regressed to sadly conventional fiscal policy by 2010. Which could happen again. But at least in intellectual terms, the current moment is quite different from what it was in 2008.“ – bto: weil wir seit Jahren auf die Fusion von Geld- und Fiskalpolitik hinarbeiten und darauf medial vorbereitet werden. Corona kam da wie gerufen.
- Frage: „(…) unlike 2008, one could argue that this is an economic crisis born of environmentally reckless industrial practices. Given that aspect, do you think it makes sense to understand this crisis as a preview of the kinds of shocks that climate change is likely to produce? – This subject is actually top of mind for me (…) If you go back to the ’70s, it’s actually epidemiologists who are central in developing these core ideas of climate politics, such as the interrelationship between the local and the global, because pandemics are always local, and yet, by definition, global (hence, pan-).“ – bto: Ich habe Probleme mit der Frage. Was bitte hat unser Wirtschaftssystem mit Corona zu tun? Es ist die globale Vernetzung, gepaart mit der Bevölkerungsexplosion, die derart wirkt.
- „(…) when you’re a ‘climate political economy’ person, you spend your time thinking about capitalism and Exxon, not epidemiology and wet markets — these things were in fact profoundly related. So, for example, those of us working on climate political economy had been developing this scenario we call the ‘climate Minsky moment’ — a market collapse triggered by a sudden devaluation of key assets as a result of climate change and/or of a governmental response to climate change. Well, in a sense, this is precisely what COVID triggered in March. We saw a huge revaluation in assets, not as a result of the epidemic per se, but as a result of the reaction to the epidemic by business actors and national governments.“ – bto: der aber aufgefangen wurde durch Staaten und Notenbanken, die per Definition das „Alte“ retten müssen, denn das ist Konjunkturpolitik.
- „In a timescale of days, it can mess with you irrevocably. And you could find yourself in a nearly untenable position if you do not act wisely on a timeline of hours. That’s a game changer. It means we need a whole different approach to the problem. And it’s not a matter of resources. It’s a question of alertness, of speed of reaction.“ – bto: Es bedeutet, nur Regierungen und Notenbanken können als „Weltenretter“ fungieren. Ich fürchte, ihre Rettungsaktionen machen weiterhin alles schlimmer.
- „(…) the International Energy Agency published a report in June calling for a $3 trillion green-energy program to see us out of the economic crisis. What really amazed me, given the moment that we’re in, was the scale of that — $3 trillion. Collectively, we’re thinking of spending that kind of money right now on unemployment and life support for the global economy all the time.“ – bto: weshalb diese Programme noch kommen werden. Gäbe es den Klimawandel nicht, müsste man ihn erfinden.
- „I think the total amount of money being spent globally on vaccine development right now is on the order of 30 to 40 billion. What is the economic value of a vaccine right now? It’s clearly tens of trillions of dollars, at least if you had one that allowed us to restart the global economy. And yet what we’re spending is tens of billions.“ – bto: Könnte es nicht sein, dass noch mehr Geld nicht mehr bringt? Natürlich könnte es sein, denn wir haben nur bestimmte Kapazitäten für die Entwicklung von Impfstoffen. Ich bezweifle, dass es noch freie Kapazitäten gibt. Also würde mehr Geld nur zu höheren Preisen und Verschwendung führen.
- „There’s a remarkable overlap between the climate-denying coalition and the COVID-denying coalition, the most obvious axis being that between the two biggest states in the Western hemisphere, Brazil and the U.S. (…) In the U.S., I think what we’re seeing is that everything is at stake in the coming election, the aftermath of the election, and, more broadly, in whether progressive forces can assemble the coalition necessary for turning the United States into a cooperative actor in managing the risks of the Anthropocene.“ – bto: Ich denke auch, wir sollten mehr tun, vor allem aber das Richtige.
- „In Europe, everyone can connect the dots. Somebody like Merkel or Macron has no difficulty saying, ‘Obviously, this pandemic is anthropocenic. Does this make acting on climate any less urgent? No, it clearly doesn’t. It demonstrates what the tail risks are. So we need to move forward, and this is a good opportunity to do it, since we need work creation and investment to deal with the unemployment problem. And if we thought flying around in cheap airlines was a problem for the climate, it turns out it’s also a problem for pandemics. And so we need to rethink the whole tourism complex, blah, blah, blah.’ These are not difficult dots to join. And sophisticated governments all over the world are joining them.“ – bto: Es ist eine andere Gesellschaftsordnung und ich frage mich, ob es wirklich progressiv oder nur repressiv ist?
- „The other big question lies in China. In the 14th five-year-plan, does coal make a catastrophic resurgence? Because, of course, we’re now also dealing with a cross-cutting national-security issue, and coal has become a comfort blanket of Chinese strategic energy planning because they’ve got lots of it at home, and it makes them feel secure. (…) there are intelligent advocates of green energy in China who say, you know, if you’re looking for energy security — and if you’re interested in security in general — then ours is the card to play because China is totally dominant in wind and solar technology. So what’s not to like?“ – bto: Die Chinesen haben auch noch keine Lösung für das Speicherproblem.
- „I believe we are living in historic times. And so the challenge for me, as a historian — as it is for you, as a journalist, or any wide-awake contemporary — is to figure out what the hell is going on. (…) I take capitalism to be a fundamental driver of modern history. There are several. One is the interstate power and violence dynamic in history; another is the logic of accumulation. These are profoundly dynamic, explosively expansive vectors. Our job is to stay awake to that fact and to stretch our minds as quickly as we can to encompass what is going on in front of our eyes (…).“ – bto: Das mag sein. Der Kapitalismus hat Milliarden von Menschen einen noch vor wenigen Jahrzehnten unvorstellbaren Wohlstand gebracht. Deshalb sollte man das „System“ auch nicht abschaffen, wie die Klimaaktivisten fordern.
- „Hopeful signs. Well, let me try. At the risk of sounding trite, I actually do still marvel at the lockdown. And this actually goes back to our earlier discussion — to the question of the extent to which history is determined by the capitalist pursuit of profit. I’m enough of an economic historian to think that it’s a hugely important variable. But there was something really extraordinary that happened in March, in which nearly the entire world — individually and collectively — made this decision to shut down the economy to preserve human life. Politicians and businesses and citizens and trade unions — the whole mass of collective actors — made this decision. The vast majority of humanity was subject to it.“ – bto: Haben wir die Näherinnen in Bangladesch gefragt, ob wir wegen Corona ihre Arbeitsplätze vernichten? Irgendwie habe ich das nicht mitbekommen.
Ein Beispiel dafür, wie man allem den gewünschten Spin geben kann.