Biography of François Chesnais

François Chesnais (22 January 1934, Montreal) is a French economist. His first major economic article (La contradiction …) was published in 1967 in La Vérité, followed in 1971 by articles on the international monetary system after the end of Bretton Woods. However the majority of his articles in this journal bore on the class struggles and the political developments in Spain and a number of South American countries. When he was first denied publication in La Vérité and then expelled from the OCI-PCI, Chesnais was working at OECD. Over the 1980s and early 1990s, his publications were academic, mainly in English and took the form of chapters in collective books. The issues treated included the interpretation of Schumpeter’s theory of capitalist development, the theory of multinational enterprises (MNEs) and that of global capital concentration and global oligopoly. In Paris Chesnais started attending the monthly seminar of the Ecole de la Régulation (ARC2) as well as working and publishing on the arms industry (Compétitivité et dépenses militaires in 1990 as author and editor; L’armement en France, with Claude Serfati in 1991). At OECD in 1991-92 he coordinated and wrote several chapters for a big report (Technology and the Economy: The Key Relationships 1992). He left OECD in October 1992 to take up an appointment as Professeur associé at the University Paris-XIII at Villetaneuse. On mandatory retirement in 1999 he was granted the title of Professeur émérite. He gained theoretical recognition in France and in Latin language countries following the publication of La mondialisation du capital, 1994 and revised and expanded in 1997 and of his work as editor and author of La mondialisation financière (1996). In 1995 Chesnais founded, along with a nucleus of former members of the OCI-PCI, the journal Carré rouge to which he contributed in almost every issue and of which later became chief editor. He was also very active in the French anti-globalisation movement, writing pamphlets on the stillborn Multinational Agreement on Investment for the Observatoire de la mondialisation (1998) and as member of ATTAC on the Tobin Tax (Tobin or not Tobin 1998 published in several Latin countries). As editor and author of one chapter for the book published by the Appel des économistes pour sortir de la pensée unique, Les pièges de la finance mondiale (2000), Chesnais took stock of the Asian and Russian crises of 1987-1998 and their repercussion on Wall Street. The setting-up of the Séminaire d’études marxiste under the aegis of Actuel Marx and the preparatory work leading up to the publication of his chapter bearing notably on the notion of fictitious capital in La finance capitaliste (2006) alongside chapters by Suzanne de Brunhoff, Gérard Duménil, Dominique Lévy and Michel Husson, marked the start of Chesnais’s re-reading on Marx’s writing on interest-bearing capital and of Hilferding’s Finance Capital. At the October 2007 Nanterre Conference of Marx International, three month after the start of the first financial phase of the global economic and financial crisis, he presented a Marxist interpretation. It was rapidly published with the title “Sur la portée et le cheminement de la crise financière” in the first December 2007 issue of the short-lived joint journal Le Brèche-Carré rouge. As the global crisis unfolded over 2008 and 2009 and then shifted to the Eurozone in 2010 Chesnais wrote numerous articles in Carré rouge and in Contretemps. His long pamphlet Les dettes illégitimes (2011, Raison d’Agir Editions) focuses on the issue on the causes and consequences of government debt with special reference to the Eurozone.

Last updated: 22 June 2016