22 March 2010

David Harvey Reads This Blog

In case you were wondering where one of the most well known academic geographers gets his information, this is what David Harvey had to say at the opening of the Urban Social Forum in Rio de Janeiro today:

"...the only profit made off of any Olympic Games was Los Angeles, and in many instances cities and governments take a huge loss.  I think it is no accident that Greece is now close to defaulting, is seriously in debt and has serious financial problems in part because of all of the money they had to borrow and had to utilize to get the Olympic Games which produced empty places which nobody knows now what to do with."

You heard it here first. This is not the whole of the story however. The real thrust of Harvey's argument, which is also something that I have drawn attention to in other posts, is that capitalist expansion requires ever growing markets, ideally somewhere around 3% annual growth. When the opportunities for physical expansion contract, or the imbalance of wealth prevents the majority from entering the market, ficticious markets emerge, and when those markets collapse, crisis ensues: USA junk bonds 1987, Japan 1990, Mexico 1995, Thailand 1997, South Asian Tigers late 1990s, dot com bust 2001, USA real-estate crash 2007, etc. Now, Harvey suggested, the emerging fictions of carbon trading are finding their spatial and market equivalents in the production of hollow spectacles like the Olympics and World Cup. These events are ideal from the perspective of capital accumulation in that they are in continual motion, needing to be in a constant state of production, consumption, and decline, and offer a spectacle that once consumed is placed into the dustbin of history. They also create some handy bubbles, like rampant real-estate speculation, that allow some economies to sustain higher than 3% growth while others lag behind. Natrually, this growth is unequal both spatially and socially throughout the city, and we can read within the Olympic Map,  where these gross inequalities and fictious markets are going to take physical form.


1 comment:

Adam said...

Nçao esquece a Árgentina, e sua crisis de 2001.

Aqui no Nordeste, temos um verdadero "boom" nos mercados de inmóveis e construção. Há 18 novos prédios residenciais em construção (de luxo, obviamente), só aqui no município de Salvador. Há uma falta de pedreiros na região em total; há notícias aqui sobre a demanda para muitos pedreiros e carpinteros que puderem mudar para Recife.

Tomara que o Brasil não tiver outra explosão do bubble nestes mercados.

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