COVID affects economy in China, AI used in constructing hydroelectric power plant in Tibet, and China’s state-owned COMAC C919, a competitor to Boeing 737 and Airbus A320, has already received 815 orders.The post News on China | No. 99 first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Ceaseless money printing by central banks, price-fixing in major sectors of the economy (“greedflation”), never-ending supply-chain disruptions and delays, endless pay-the-rich schemes (e.g., public-private “partnerships”), constantly-growing debt at all levels, more inequality, intensifying stock market turbulence, out-of-control inflation, widespread poverty, and lower working and living standards for millions are signs of an economy that lost historical and social relevance long ago. It is an economy in dire need of a new aim and direction under the control of the workers who actually produce the wealth in society.
The economic and social fallout from an obsolete economic and political system continues at home and abroad. This is especially significant given the interconnected nature of everything and the fact that the rich and their political and media representatives are incapable of analyzing and theorizing the economy objectively and offer only more confusion and incoherence.
Below are additional statistics on the state of working and living conditions nationally and internationally. Links to the first four parts can be found at the end of this article.
“The IMF sees growth in 2022 and 2023 lower than it did in January .”
“Poor countries face a mounting catastrophe fueled by inflation and debt.”
“Global leaders warn of economic dangers as crises multiply. At the G-7 conference in Germany, finance ministers wrestle with stagflation, energy shocks, food shortages and debt crises.”
“Age of scarcity begins with $1.6 trillion hit to world economy. New fault-lines are likely to outlast war and plague — leaving the global economy smaller and prices higher.”
“World’s largest fertilizer company warns crop nutrient disruptions through 2023.”
“Producer prices in South Korea rose 9.2 percent year-on-year in April of 2022, accelerating from a 9 percent advance in the previous month.”
Japan: “Producer inflation in April rose by double digits for the first time since 1980.”
People queue ‘more than 10 hours’ for fuel in crisis-stricken Sri Lanka.”
“The Reserve Bank of Australia expects inflation to reach 5.5 per cent by June  – compared to the government’s 4.25 per cent forecast – and six per cent by the end of 2022.”
“Turkish reserves lost ‘shocking’ $4.8 billion in just one week.”
“The Tunisian economy has gone from bad to worse in recent years, battered by a series of challenges from heavy indebtedness to diminished output.”
“Inflation hits 7% in April as Ireland’s cost of living soars. Households warned to brace for sharpest squeeze since early 1980s.”
“UK consumer confidence falls to its lowest level since 1970s.”
“Spain expected to produce the lowest volume of fruit in 40 years.”
“Iceland ramps up tightening in biggest rate hike since 2008. Inflation may now exceed 8% in third quarter, officials say.”
“Swedish economy contracts as price hikes start to bite.”
“Rising prices put pressure on Swiss consumers and industry.”
“Albanian president says public debt at “very worrying” 84% of GDP.”
“Bulgaria’s inflation jumps to 14.4% y/y in April.”
“I’ve been in the markets for 25 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Danielle DiMartino Booth, CEO and chief strategist for Quill Intelligence, a Wall Street and Federal Reserve research firm. “It’s violent not just volatile.”
“Federal Reserve data shows that the middle 60 percent of households ownership of the national wealth has fallen to just only 26 percent. Their ownership of real estate has fallen from 44 percent, a generation ago, to 38 percent today. Since 1971, wage growth has nearly stagnated while GDP and productivity have increased significantly.”
“Existing home sales in the US declined by 2.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.61 million in April of 2022, the lowest since June of 2020 and slightly below forecasts of 5.65 million.”
“Builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes fell eight points to 69 in May, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). This is the fifth straight month that builder sentiment has declined and the lowest reading since June 2020.”
“Applications for mortgages to purchase a home dropped 12% from the prior week [early May 2022] and were down 15% from a year ago.”
“More subprime borrowers are missing loan payments. Borrowers with limited or troubled credit histories are defaulting on credit cards, car loans and personal loans.”
“Foreclosure wave sweeping US crests in Chicago.”
“Millions of Americans are worrying about how to deal with high prices, or are going without. Predictions of a looming recession make everyone concerned about their jobs. And any pay increases that come with a new job are quickly gobbled up by inflation.”
“A third of Americans report financial stress in census survey.”
“In the fourth quarter of 2021, credit card debt rose $52 billion, the largest quarterly increase on record. After the Fed’s quarter-point increase in March, interest rates increased across 75 percent of the 200 credit cards LendingTree credit expert Matt Schulz monitors every month, he told CBS News.”
“1 in 6 US kids are in families below the poverty line.”
“Why inflation is hitting Gen Z particularly hard. Rising prices, plunging stocks and surging rents are making it a difficult time to enter adulthood.” Gen Z, also known as “zoomers,” consists of people born between 1997 and 2012.
“With infant formula in very short supply, many Americans have been getting a crash course in market concentration. Just four companies make 90% of the formula sold in this country, which means that a recall and a plant closure at just one of those companies is having some pretty serious ripple effects. A similar lack of competition can be found in many sectors of the American economy.”
“Data analysis demonstrated that baby formula stock was relatively stable for the first half of 2021. Out-of-stock rate (OOS) fluctuation was between 2-8%. The OOS detail shows that in January 2022, baby formula shortages have hit 23%. Hyperlocal data indicates they will continue to worsen, showing OOS levels now at 31% as of April 2022.”
“Bird flu outbreak nears worst ever in U.S. with 37 million animals dead.”
“[T]hrough consolidation, the number of hospitals in the United States declined by 16% in the last quarter of the 20th century, but with no evidence of improved quality.”
“Half of America faces power blackouts this summer, regulator warns.”
“Soaring diesel prices spells bad news for America.”
Taken together, these and many other facts show that the economic system remains chaotic, fragmented, anarchic, obsolete, and incapable of ensuring prosperity, peace, security, and stability for all. Uncertainty and turmoil plague everything. More and more people around the world are experiencing greater economic hardship and more social and psychological problems. The situation is serious and bad. It cannot be otherwise when an economy is not directed by workers themselves. Leaving control of the economy in the hands of the financial oligarchy leads only to more tragedies.
No real solutions are being offered by the rich and their cheerleaders at every level of society and government. We are just supposed to watch everything slowly crumble while hoping for some spontaneous magical solution that saves the day and makes the nightmare quickly go away.
In its inability to solve any problems, government is revealing itself to be more irrelevant with each passing day. Government incompetence and irresponsibility are very high. Why do people have to beg for decades for the most simple basic things? Why are there trillions of dollars for banks, war, Wall Street, “security,” and the rich but hardly anything for the rest of humanity? Why is this basic question still being posed today?
While deep meaningful change that favors the people does not happen overnight, it cannot happen without constant, organized, patient, collective study, analysis, discussion, and action. Serious and focused attention must be given to the conditions confronting people, and then this information and analysis has to be used to arrive at warranted conclusions about how to collectively build the alternative on a step-wise basis. There are a million steps. Great discipline is required. And the more broadly this discussion is taken the better it will serve workers, students, youth, women, the elderly, and the disabled. Everyone should boldly speak up and discuss. Much is at stake and silence usually makes things worse. Put the disturbing facts on the table and open up the discussion on systemic fundamental problems and the need for a fresh alternative and new direction that ensures security, prosperity, peace, and stability for all. In the absence of organized discussion, analysis, and action people are left to fend for themselves in a world saturated with disinformation, propaganda, and brain-washing of all sorts. People wake up every day and confront a world full of endless distractions, diversions, and mysteries causing much cognition to be discombobulated, erratic, and incoherent. It is everyone’s responsibility to contribute to opening the path of progress to society by unleashing the human factor and social consciousness. Working people are more than capable of sorting things out and moving society in a pro-social direction.“Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part Five first appeared on Dissident Voice.
The last three economic updates (see end of article) focused primarily on the U.S., whereas this update focuses more on global conditions.
The data coming in every day, month after month, is revealing a clear picture of the dire straits confronting millions globally. Problems appear at every level and on every continent. There is no letup in deteriorating economic and social conditions at home and abroad. Things are dreadful and getting worse in most parts of the world, and the decline began long before top-down covid lockdowns started more than two years ago.
Unfortunately, mainstream economic news is largely irrational, contradictory, and incoherent; it does not help people figure out what is going on, who is responsible, why phenomena are unfolding the way they are, how to connect the dots intelligibly, and how to move forward in a way that favors the people. No serious theory, analysis, or perspective is offered to assist people in affirming their interests.
“Poorer nations in Asia, Africa, Middle East face food crisis: UN.”
“In 2021, an Oxfam review of IMF COVID-19 loans showed that 33 African countries were encouraged to pursue austerity policies. This despite the IMF’s own research showing austerity worsens poverty and inequality.”
“In 2020, half of all Zimbabweans – eight million people – were estimated to be in extreme poverty. That toll is almost certainly greater after a stringent COVID-19 lockdown that hit the informal sector – on which 90 percent of economically active citizens depend on for their survival – especially hard.”
“Surging inflation set to derail Ghana’s 2022 growth target.”
“Turkish inflation of 70% Sets G-20 high.”
“Severe economic crisis, high living cost affect Lebanese diet.”
Sri Lanka “is in shambles after defaulting on payments on its mountain of foreign loans — estimated to be worth $50 billion — for the first time since the country gained independence from the British in 1948.”
“The Bank of England forecast inflation exceeding 10% and predicted negligible growth for the next two years, toppling into months of recession, accompanied by the savage squeeze on living standards.”
“Italy unveiled a hefty package of measures ($14 billion euros) on Monday (May 2, 2022) aimed at shielding firms and families from surging energy costs as the war in Ukraine casts a shadow over the growth prospects of the euro zone’s third largest economy.”
“The Spanish economy was the hardest hit in the euro area by the pandemic, shrinking 11% in 2020 amid tough lockdowns. Two years later, it has still not returned to its pre-virus level.”
“Dutch consumers have never been so pessimistic about the economy.”
“France’s economy unexpectedly grinds to a halt in first quarter.”
“Business environment trends still mostly negative in Latvia.”
“‘We see a big recession in the making’: Top CEOs are fearing the worst in Europe.”
“Europe’s Economy is ‘De Facto Stagnating,’ ECB’s Panetta Says.” ECB stands for European Central Bank. Fabio Panetta is an Executive Board member of the ECB.
“S. Korean economy facing growing downside risks.” South Korea is Asia’s fourth-largest economy.
“Depreciating yen threatens Japan’s economy.”
New Zealand: “Recession fears as survey shows record 20 percent of Kiwis plan to cut spending.”
“Australia’s prices surge at fastest pace in two decades.”
“Average Australian worker went backwards by $800 in 2021, says ACTU chief Michele O’Neil.”
“The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) places Costa Rica with the highest unemployment rate in people between 15 and 24 years old (40%), even when comparing us with other countries such as Colombia, Chile and Mexico, which are also part of this organization.”
“Inflation is eroding Latin Americans’ purchasing power.”
“[U.S.] Stock market’s plunge continues on new concerns about global economy.”
“The S&P 500 has dropped 18% so far this year, losing $7 trillion in value.”
“New wave of inflation – and disruptions – hits U.S. factory floors.”
“[In the U.S.] the average price of all grades of gasoline at the pump spiked to a record $4.33 per gallon on Monday, May 9, the third week in a row of increases, and was up 46% from a year ago, edging past the prior record of Monday, March 14 ($4.32), according to the US Energy Department’s EIA late Monday, based on its surveys of gas stations conducted during the day.”
“[In the U.S.] foreclosures surge 181% to highest levels since March 2020.”
Capital-centered economies cannot provide for the needs of all and are instead spiraling out of control with each passing month. Such economies perpetuate insecurity, instability, and anarchy for everyone, no matter which party of the rich is in power. Life is proving that none of the existing institutions and arrangements are capable of sorting out the grave problems confronting millions. “Representative democracy” is not giving rise to conditions that guarantee security, peace, and prosperity for all.
A completely new outlook, vision, thinking, politics, and direction is needed. New arrangements that favor the people are long overdue. The old way of doing things just prolongs misery and insecurity.
The post “Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part Four first appeared on Dissident Voice.
The Russia-Ukraine war has quickly turned into a global conflict. One of the likely outcomes of this war is the very redefinition of the current world order, which has been in effect, at least since the collapse of the Soviet Union over three decades ago.
Indeed, there is a growing sense that a new global agenda is forthcoming, one that could unite Russia and China and, to a degree, India and others, under the same banner. This is evident, not only by the succession of the earth-shattering events underway, but, equally important, the language employed to describe these events.
The Russian position on Ukraine has morphed throughout the war from merely wanting to “demilitarize” and “denazify” Ukraine to a much bigger regional and global agenda, to eventually, per the words of Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, “put an end to the unabashed expansion” of NATO, and the “unabashed drive towards full domination by the US and its Western subjects on the world stage.”
On April 30, Lavrov went further, stating in an interview with the official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, that Russia’s war “contributes to the process of freeing the world from the West’s neocolonial oppression,” predicated on “racism and an exceptionality.”
But Russia is not the only country that feels this way. China, too, even India, and many others. The meeting between Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on March 30, served as a foundation of this truly new global language. Statements made by the two countries’ top diplomats were more concerned about challenging US hegemony than the specifics of the Ukraine war.
Those following the evolution of the Russia-China political discourse, even before the start of the Russia-Ukraine war on February 24, will notice that the language employed supersedes that of a regional conflict, into the desire to bring about the reordering of world affairs altogether.
But is this new world order possible? If yes, what would it look like? These questions, and others, remain unanswered, at least for now. What we know, however, is that the Russian quest for global transformation exceeds Ukraine by far, and that China, too, is on board.
While Russia and China remain the foundation of this new world order, many other countries, especially in the Global South, are eager to join. This should not come as a surprise as frustration with the unilateral US-led world order has been brewing for many years, and has come at a great cost. Even the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, though timid at times, has warned against this unilaterality, calling instead on the international community to commit itself to “the values of multilateralism and diplomacy for peace.”
However, the pro-Russian stances in the South – as indicated by the refusal of many governments to join western sanctions on Moscow, and the many displays of popular support through protests, rallies and statements – continue to lack a cohesive narrative. Unlike the Soviet Union of yesteryears, Russia of today does not champion a global ideology, like socialism, and its current attempt at articulating a relatable global discourse remains, for now, limited.
It is obviously too early to examine any kind of superstructure – language, political institutions, religion, philosophy, etc – resulting from the Russia-NATO global conflict, Russia-Ukraine war and the growing Russia-China affinity.
Though much discussion has been dedicated to the establishing of an alternative monetary system, in the case of Lavrov’s and Yi’s new world order, a fully-fledged substructure is yet to be developed.
New substructures will only start forming once the national currency of countries like Russia and China replace the US dollar, alternative money transfer systems, like CIPS, are put into effect, new trade routes are open, and eventually new modes of production replace the old ones. Only then, superstructures will follow, including new political discourses, historical narratives, everyday language, culture, art and even symbols.
The thousands of US-western sanctions slapped on Russia were largely meant to weaken the country’s ability to navigate outside the current US-dominated global economic system. Without this maneuverability, the West believes, Moscow would not be able to create and sustain an alternative economic model that is centered around Russia.
True, US sanctions on Cuba, North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Venezuela and others have failed to produce the coveted ‘regime change’, but they have succeeded in weakening the substructures of these societies, denying them the chance to be relevant economic actors at a regional and international stage. They were merely allowed to subsist, and barely so.
Russia, on the other hand, is a global power, with a relatively large economy, international networks of allies, trade partners and supporters. That in mind, surely a regime change will not take place in Moscow any time soon. The latter’s challenge, however, is whether it will be able to orchestrate a sustainable paradigm shift under current western pressures and sanctions.
Time will tell. For now, it is certain that some kind of a global transformation is taking place, along with the potential of a ‘new world order’, a term, ironically employed by the US government more than any other.Ending “West’s Neocolonial Oppression”: On the New Language and Superstructures first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Below is more data on the continually failing economy and how it is hurting millions across the U.S.
It can be seen from the different parts in this series, as well as other articles on the same topic,1 that there is a dire situation confronting millions of people centuries after the scientific and technical revolution made it possible to easily meet the needs of all.
To be sure, the economy is working mainly for a handful of people and cannot provide for the needs of all. And experience shows that the inability and unwillingness of the ruling elite to fix any major problems will increase in the coming years. This historically superfluous force is blocking the rise of a fresh new alternative that puts human rights center-stage. It is desperate to seize even more of the new value produced by working people no matter how damaging this is to the natural and social environment.
The share of socially-produced wealth owned by the richest 0.00001 percent of Americans, representing only 18 households, has risen by a factor of nearly 10 since 1982.
“Top US corporations are raising prices on Americans even as profits surge.” Big companies and various monopolies routinely engage in price-gouging and price-fixing. The pandemic intensified corporate greed.
The concentration of wealth increased through a record number of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in 2021 and are expected to increase in 2022. Global M&A volume exceeded $5 trillion in 2021.
“As inflation soars [now officially over 8 percent], Americans’ confidence in the economy is crumbling.” Many are not hopeful about the future of the economy. In a recent Gallup poll, only 2% of survey respondents felt that the economy was “excellent.” The real inflation rate exceeds 15 percent.
The U.S. Commerce Department recently reported that energy costs are up 34 percent while wage growth continues to lag behind widespread inflation, leaving many Americans behind.
“In March , U.S. consumer sentiment reached its lowest level since 2011, according to the University of Michigan’s Surveys of Consumers, and more households said they expected their finances to worsen than at any time since May 1980.”
“US job openings reached a record 11.5 million in March , according to JOLTS data released Wednesday. That’s up from the 11.3 million seen the month prior and above the forecast for 11 million openings.” The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) comes from the U.S. Department of Labor.
“The labor force participation rate was at 62.4% in March , still below the 63.4% rate in February 2020, before the pandemic.”
“Gross domestic product unexpectedly declined at an annual rate of 1.4% during the first three months of the year — the worst quarter for the American economy since the pandemic turned the world upside down in the spring of 2020.”
“[T]he U.S. economy is more leveraged than ever, with the average consumer needing $6,400 a year in debt to maintain the current standard of living.”
MarketWatch and other mainstream news sources report that, “The bond market has crashed” and that this is the worst record for bonds in decades.
“In March of 2021, The Hope Center at Temple University conducted a survey of nearly 200,000 students attending colleges and universities around the country. Nearly three in five students said they experienced basic needs insecurity. Housing insecurity impacted 48% of those students and 14% of them were affected by homelessness.”
Officially, there are “more than 4,000 homeless [k-12] students in Palm Beach County [Florida].” Last year the number was under 3,000. Many “live in cars, parks or abandoned buildings.”
“A report from Rent.com puts a one-bedroom apartment in Miami [Florida] at $2,744 per month, up 21.6% from last year.” This pattern can be found in dozens of other American cities.
U.S. “mortgage rates hit their highest level since 2009.”
“In the six weeks ending April 2, the U.S. hotel industry sold 5.2 million fewer room nights than it did at this time in 2019.”
“3.4 million more kids lived in poverty in February  than last December, two months after a monthly check program to parents expired.”
“41.5 million people received SNAP (food stamps) in 2021, up nearly 6 million from 2019.”
“[N]early 20% of U.S. workers reported being bound by noncompete agreements that limited an employee’s ability to join or start up a competing firm, and said employer market power was responsible for keeping wages 15% below where they would be in a perfectly competitive market.”
On top of all this, the stock market, which produces nothing, is more turbulent than ever and recently lost several trillion dollars in paper wealth in the course of just a few days. Unpredictability and anarchy persist. The harsh reality is that economic and social decline continues uninterrupted in many parts of the world, not just the U.S.
An economy dominated by an extremely tiny elite is not going to produce solutions that favor the people. Experience and research show that problems steadily go from bad to worse under existing political and economic arrangements. Participating in outmoded arrangements that were always designed to keep people at arm’s length has not worked, as can be seen from the fact that many serious problems keep going from bad to worse, and the fact that millions feel marginalized, overwhelmed, exhausted, and disempowered today. All the liberal institutions that came into being in the twentieth century are dysfunctional, outmoded, and incapable of giving expression to the claims, will, and interests of the people.
New arrangements based on a new independent politics and a new word outlook are urgently needed. The current neoliberal trajectory is untenable and unsustainable. It only brings more tragedies to the people. Relentlessly begging politicians to do the most basic simple things to affirm the most basic rights is humiliating, exhausting, and preposterous. Democracy should not mean that people beg and chase politicians every day just to “do the right thing.” Such supplication and chasing diverts large amounts of precious attention and energy away from focusing on and building our own collective power, analysis, and actions. It prevents us from relying on ourselves and seeing ourselves as the alternative to the status quo. Getting caught up in the nasty, self-serving, pragmatic, and unprincipled internal politics, shenanigans, and chicanery of the parties of the rich, democratic or republican, will only hinder progress and prolong misery and insecurity for all. It is a non-starter. It is not politically effective. Even incremental and small “breaks” and “wins” are very hard to come by. Why is this the case in 2022 when the problems and necessity for change are so glaring? Why is it so difficult for basic rights to be affirmed?
The existing political set-up blocks the affirmation of the will of the people instead of upholding it and honoring it. Mainstream politicians and their parties are proving to be more irrelevant and ineffective with each passing day.
With democratic renewal it is possible to break free from current arrangements and usher in a new world based on a self-reliant, diverse, and balanced economy that meets the needs of all and thrives without exploitation and oppression.
- Many other articles containing extensive facts and statistics on economic and social decline can be found at my Dissident Voice author’s page
PressTV Interview with Peter Koenig
Iran and Venezuela are poised to enter a new era to fight US sanctions. Their cooperation in Hydrocarbons – production as well as trade – may help them gradually detach from western sanctions.
An idea brought forward in this interview is their joint exit from the dollar-dominated trade economy, by selling their petrol and gas in one or more other currencies than the US-dollar or even the Euro. Ideally, they may want to join the Russian move of selling gas for rubles instead of US dollars.
This brilliant Russian initiative, of course, has been a major “explosion” in Europe and elsewhere in the world, but most countries eventually accept this new payment mode – one that is totally delinked from the US dollar and its little brother, the Euro.
It is a move away from the SWIFT transfer system which makes countries vulnerable to sanctions because using SWIFT – the western payment mode – all transfers have to transit via US banks, thus increasing vulnerability to western, mostly US, interference or sanctions.
After all, still today 84% of all energy used in the world stems from hydrocarbons, as compared to some 87% in the year 2000. And this despite much talk of shunning petrol and gas, the Paris Climate Agenda, and especially propagating a Green Agenda – empty words, manipulating people’s minds towards a new form of capitalism.
Another strategy which both countries are actively considering, is increasingly delinking their trading from the west and orienting their economies towards the east; i.e., the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the Association of South Asian Nations (ASEAN), uniting 11 Asian countries, plus Russia and China. Earlier this year, Iran has been admitted as a member of the SCO.
These Eastern block economies together make up for about 50% of Mother Earth’s population and at least a third of the world’s GDP. Becoming part of this union is definitely a decisive step away from western domination and sanctions. See full interview (PressTV-PK – video 12 min – 3 May 2022)Iran and Venezuela Energy Cooperation first appeared on Dissident Voice.
While international news headlines remain largely focused on the war in Ukraine, little attention is given to the horrific consequences of the war which are felt in many regions around the world. Even when these repercussions are discussed, disproportionate coverage is allocated to European countries, like Germany and Austria, due to their heavy reliance on Russian energy sources.
The horrific scenario, however, awaits countries in the Global South which, unlike Germany, will not be able to eventually substitute Russian raw material from elsewhere. Countries like Tunisia, Sri Lanka and Ghana and numerous others, are facing serious food shortages in the short, medium and long term.
The World Bank is warning of a “human catastrophe” as a result of a burgeoning food crisis, itself resulting from the Russia-Ukraine war. The World Bank President, David Malpass, told the BBC that his institution estimates a “huge” jump in food prices, reaching as high as 37%, which would mean that the poorest of people would be forced to “eat less and have less money for anything else such as schooling.”
This foreboding crisis is now compounding an existing global food crisis, resulting from major disruptions in the global supply chains, as a direct outcome of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as pre-existing problems, resulting from wars and civil unrest, corruption, economic mismanagement, social inequality and more.
Even prior to the war in Ukraine, the world was already getting hungrier. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), an estimated 811 million people in the world “faced hunger in 2020”, with a massive jump of 118 million compared to the previous year. Considering the continued deterioration of global economies, especially in the developing world, and the subsequent and unprecedented inflation worldwide, the number must have made several large jumps since the publishing of FAO’s report in July 2021, reporting on the previous year.
Indeed, inflation is now a global phenomenon. The consumer price index in the United States has increased by 8.5% from a year earlier, according to the financial media company, Bloomberg. In Europe, “inflation (reached) record 7.5%”, according to the latest data released by Eurostat. As troubling as these numbers are, western societies with relatively healthy economies and potential room for government subsidies, are more likely to weather the inflation storm, if compared to countries in Africa, South America, the Middle East and many parts of Asia.
The war in Ukraine has immediately impacted food supplies to many parts of the world. Russia and Ukraine combined contribute 30% of global wheat exports. Millions of tons of these exports find their way to food-import-dependent countries in the Global South – mainly the regions of South Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. Considering that some of these regions, comprising some of the poorest countries in the world, have already been struggling under the weight of pre-existing food crises, it is safe to say that tens of millions of people already are, or are likely to go, hungry in the coming months and years.
Another factor resulting from the war is the severe US-led western sanctions on Russia. The harm of these sanctions is likely to be felt more in other countries than in Russia itself, due to the fact that the latter is largely food and energy independent.
Although the overall size of the Russian economy is comparatively smaller than that of leading global economic powers like the US and China, its contributions to the world economy makes it absolutely critical. For example, Russia accounts for a quarter of the world’s natural gas exports, according to the World Bank, and 18% of coal and wheat exports, 14% of fertilizers and platinum shipments, and 11% of crude oil. Cutting off the world from such a massive wealth of natural resources while it is desperately trying to recover from the horrendous impact of the pandemic is equivalent to an act of economic self-mutilation.
Of course, some are likely to suffer more than others. While economic growth is estimated to shrink by a large margin – up to 50% in some cases – in countries that fuel regional and international growth such as Turkey, South Africa and Indonesia, the crisis is expected to be much more severe in countries that aim for mere economic subsistence, including many African countries.
An April report published by the humanitarian group, Oxfam, citing an alert issued by 11 international humanitarian organizations, warned that “West Africa is hit by its worst food crisis in a decade.” Currently, there are 27 million people going hungry in that region, a number that may rise to 38 million in June if nothing is done to stave off the crisis. According to the report, this number would represent “a new historic level”, as it would be an increase by more than a third compared to last year. Like other struggling regions, the massive food shortage is a result of the war in Ukraine, in addition to pre-existing problems, lead amongst them the pandemic and climate change.
While the thousands of sanctions imposed on Russia are yet to achieve any of their intended purpose, it is poor countries that are already feeling the burden of the war, sanctions and geopolitical tussle between great powers. As the west is busy dealing with its own economic woes, little heed is being paid to those suffering most. And as the world is forced to transition to a new global economic order, it will take years for small economies to successfully make that adjustment.
While it is important that we acknowledge the vast changes to the world’s geopolitical map, let us not forget that millions of people are going hungry, paying the price for a global conflict of which they are not part.Cost of the Ukraine War Felt in Africa, Global South first appeared on Dissident Voice.
On April 19, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released its annual World Economic Outlook, which forecasted a severe slowdown in global growth along with soaring prices.‘For 2022, inflation is projected at 5.7 percent in advanced economies and 8.7 percent in emerging market and developing economies – 1.8 and 2.8 percentage points higher than projected in … January’, the report noted. IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva offered a sobering reflection on the data: ‘Inflation is reaching the highest levels seen in decades. Sharply higher prices for food and fertilizers put pressure on households worldwide – especially for the poorest. And we know that food crises can unleash social unrest’.
What is the root cause of this extraordinary wave of inflation? US President Joe Biden blamed Russia’s war in Ukraine: ‘What people don’t know is that 70 percent of the increase in inflation was the consequence of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s price hike because of the impact of oil prices’. However, even The Wall Street Journal editorial board noted that ‘this isn’t Putin’s inflation’. Georgieva of the IMF has tried to walk a middle ground, saying that ‘Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has created a crisis on top of a crisis’. Her view mirrored that of the World Economic Outlook, which pointed out that ‘the crisis unfold[ed] while the global economy was on a mending path but had not yet fully recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic’.
The No Cold War platform, with whom Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research has a close working relationship, has produced a very important intervention into this debate. Briefing no. 2, The United States Has Destabilised the World Economy, which appears below, makes the case that a governing factor in the current inflation crisis is the outsized impact of the United States on the global economy; here, US military spending, the scale of the United States in global consumption, the role of the Wall Street-Dollar-IMF regime, and other factors play a key role. We hope you find briefing no. 2 useful and circulate it widely.
The International Monetary Fund has announced that the global economy is entering a major slowdown, downgrading the growth prospects of 143 countries. At the same time, inflation rates have reached historic levels. Around the world, hundreds of millions of people are falling into poverty, particularly in the Global South. Oxfam has sounded the alarm that we are ‘witnessing the most profound collapse of humanity into extreme poverty and suffering in memory’. What is producing this immense human suffering?
An Economic Crisis ‘Made in Washington’
On 13 April, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen claimed that this global economic deterioration was due to the Russian war in Ukraine. This is factually incorrect. Although the conflict has worsened the situation, the key driver which has destabilised the world economy is the massive inflationary wave that had already built up in the United States and has now begun to crest on the world. Prior to the war in Ukraine, US inflation had already tripled in recent years from 2.5% (January 2020) to 7.5% (January 2022) before accelerating further to 8.5% (March 2022) after the war broke out.
‘This isn’t Putin’s inflation’, the Wall Street Journal editorial board noted. ‘This inflation was made in Washington’.
The US consumer market absorbs a fifth of the world’s goods and services; as the demand for these goods outstrips the global supply, the tendency for US inflation to spread around the world is very high. The average Commodity Research Bureau Index, a general indicator of global commodity markets, has risen astronomically: as of 25 April, year-to-year prices have soared for oil (60%), palm oil (60%), coffee (56%), wheat (45%), natural gas (139%), and coal (253%). These price increases have sent shock waves through the global economy.
This instability is inseparably connected to US economic policy. Since 2020, the United States has increased its budget by $2.8 trillion. To finance this budgetary expansion, the US government increased borrowing to 27% of the gross domestic product (GDP), and the Federal Reserve Bank increased the money supply (the quantity of money issued) by 27% year-on-year. Both of these increases are the highest in US peacetime history.
These huge US economic packages were generated to put cash in the hands of consumers. The US government focused on the economy’s demand side by putting money into circulation for consumption, but it did not increase spending on the economy’s supply side by putting money into investment. From 2019–21, 98% of US GDP growth was in consumption, while only 2% was in net investment. With a large increase in demand by consumers and almost no increase in supply, a huge inflationary wave grew in the United States.
Investing in Guns or People?
Inflation in the United States, which has global implications, is a by-product of its economic priorities. For the past half-century, US governments have not used the country’s social wealth to make substantial social investments in areas such as education, healthcare, and infrastructure, nor have they invested in the manufacturing sector to increase supply. Instead, to manage inflation the government has chosen to push an agenda which cuts demand. These cuts in demand have already lowered living standards; for instance, real wages in the United States have fallen by 2.7% in the past year.
Instead of making social investments to prevent such economic downturns, the US government has prioritised its military, which receives a budget increase every year. In 2022, the Biden administration proposed a military budget of $813 billion, a 9.2% increase over the military budget in 2021 – larger than the next eleven highest spending countries combined. To justify this massive expenditure, the Biden administration, like the Trump administration before it, has invoked the need to ‘combat threats’ posed by China and Russia.
A reduction in US military spending would free up government funds to invest in education, healthcare, infrastructure, and manufacturing. However, this would necessitate a shift in US foreign policy, which does not appear to be on the horizon. Until that time, the people of the United States and other countries will have to sustain the costs of Washington’s new Cold War.
Against the shallow assessment that global inflation is caused by Russia’s war on Ukraine and the Western sanctions on Russia, No Cold War’s briefing no. 2 points its finger at the root of the crisis: the distortions produced by US military spending and by the Wall Street-Dollar-IMF regime gripping the world economy.
In December 2021, the IMF’s Georgieva said that Europe’s governments must not allow economic recovery to be endangered by the ‘suffocating force of austerity’. This is part of the West’s astonishing double-standards: at the same time, the IMF has enforced harsh austerity measures on the countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. As Oxfam notes in a new analysis, during the pandemic’s second year (from March 2021 to March 2022), the IMF approved 23 loans to 22 countries in the Global South – all of which either encouraged or required austerity measures. For example, the IMF’s $2.3 billion loan agreement with Kenya required a four-year public sector pay freeze alongside higher taxes on gas and food, all while 63 percent of Kenyan households experience multidimensional poverty, according to a report by the Kenya Institute of Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA).
The austerity policies that impact the vast mass of the populations in these countries must be reversed. We need less money spent on war and more money spent to solve what Frantz Fanon called the obstinate facts of human life, such as hunger, illiteracy, and indignity.
Langston Hughes’s poetry focused on the impact of these ‘obstinate facts’ on the lives of people in the United States, people who fought against a life built on wages that equalled ‘two bits minus two’. In 1962, the United States spent $49 billion on its military ($431 billion in 2022 dollars); in 2022, as noted in briefing no. 2, the US government proposes to spend $813 billion on its military, larger than the military spending of the next eleven countries combined.
There is immense social wealth available to us, but it is spent on the parts of human life that are most destructive rather than productive. In 1962, as the US military budget began to balloon, Langston Hughes wrote:
I tire so of hearing people say,
Let things take their course.
Tomorrow is another day.
I do not need my freedom when I’m dead.
I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread.
Is a strong seed
In a great need.
I live here, too.
I want my freedom
Just as you.
We need to advance to the goal of human emancipation now. Not tomorrow, but now.The post I Cannot Live on Tomorrow’s Bread first appeared on Dissident Voice.
‘World Localization Day’ will be celebrated on 20 June. Organised by the non-profit Local Futures, this annual coming together of people from across the world began in 2020 and focuses on the need to localise supply-chains and recover our connection with nature and community. The stated aim is to “galvanize the worldwide localization movement into a force for systemic change”.
Local Futures, founded by Helena Norberg-Hodge, urges us to imagine a very different world, one in which most of our food comes from nearby farmers who ensure food security year round and where the money we spend on everyday goods continues to recirculate in the local economy.
We are asked to imagine local businesses providing ample, meaningful employment opportunities, instead of our hard-earned cash being immediately siphoned off to some distant corporate headquarters.
Small farms would be key in this respect. They are integral to local markets and networks, short supply chains, food sovereignty, more diverse cropping systems and healthier diets. And they tend to serve the food requirements of communities rather than the interests of big business, institutional investors and shareholders half a world away.
If the COVID lockdowns and war in Ukraine tell us anything about our food system, it is that decentralised, regional and local community-owned food systems based on short(er) supply chains that can cope with future shocks are now needed more than ever.
The report Towards a Food Revolution: Food Hubs and Cooperatives in the US and Italy offers some pointers for creating sustainable support systems for small food producers and food distribution. Alternative, resilient food models and community supported agriculture are paramount.
Localization involves strengthening and rebuilding local economies and communities and restoring cultural and biological diversity. The ‘economics of happiness’ is central to this vision, rather than an endless quest for GDP growth and the alienation, conflict and misery this brings.
It is something we need to work towards because multi-billionaire globalists have a dystopian future mapped out for humanity which they want to impose on us all – and it is diametrically opposed to what is stated above.
The much-publicised ‘great reset’ is integral to this dystopia. It marks a shift away from ‘liberal democracy’ towards authoritarianism. At the same time, there is the relentless drive towards a distorted notion of a ‘green economy’, underpinned by the rhetoric of ‘sustainable consumption’ and ‘climate emergency’.
The great reset is really about capitalism’s end-game. Those promoting it realise the economic and social system must undergo a reset to a ‘new normal’, something that might no longer resemble ‘capitalism’.
Capital can no longer maintain its profitability by exploiting labour alone. This much has been clear for some time. There is only so much surplus value to be extracted before the surplus is insufficient.
Historian Luciana Bohne notes that the shutting down of parts of the economy was already happening pre-COVID as there was insufficient growth, well below the minimum tolerable 3% level to maintain the viability of capitalism. This, despite a decades-long attack on workers and corporate tax cuts.
The system had been on life support for some time. Credit markets had been expanded and personal debt facilitated to maintain consumer demand as workers’ wages were squeezed. Financial products (derivatives, equities, debt, etc) and speculative capitalism were boosted, affording the rich a place to park their profits and make money off money. We have also seen the growth of unproductive rentier capitalism and stock buy backs and massive bail outs courtesy of taxpayers.
Moreover, in capitalism, there is also a tendency for the general rate of profit to fall over time. And this has certainly been the case according to writer Ted Reese, who notes it has trended downwards from an estimated 43% in the 1870s to 17% in the 2000s.
The 2008 financial crash was huge. But by late 2019, an even bigger meltdown was imminent. Many companies could not generate enough profit and falling turnover, squeezed margins, limited cashflows and highly leveraged balance sheets were prevalent. In effect, economic growth was already grinding to a halt prior to the massive stock market crash in February 2020.
Fabio Vighi, professor of critical theory, describes how, in late 2019, the Swiss Bank of International Settlements, BlackRock (the world’s most powerful investment fund), G7 central bankers, leading politicians and others worked behind closed doors to avert a massive impending financial meltdown.
The Fed soon began an emergency monetary programme, pumping hundreds of billions of dollars per week into financial markets. Not long after, COVID hit and lockdowns were imposed. The stock market did not collapse because lockdowns occurred. Vighi argues lockdowns were rolled out because financial markets were collapsing.
Closing down the global economy under the guise of fighting a pathogen that mainly posed a risk to the over 80s and the chronically ill seemed illogical to many, but lockdowns allowed the Fed to flood financial markets (COVID relief) with freshly printed money without causing hyperinflation. Vighi says that lockdowns curtailed economic activity, thereby removing demand for the newly printed money (credit) in the physical economy and preventing ‘contagion’.
Using lockdowns and restrictions, smaller enterprises were driven out of business and large sections of the pre-COVID economy were shut down. This amounted to a controlled demolition of parts of the economy while the likes of Amazon, Microsoft, Meta (Facebook) and the online payment sector – platforms which are dictating what the ‘new normal’ will look like – were clear winners in all of this.
The rising inflation that we currently witness is being blamed on the wholly avoidable conflict in Ukraine. Although this tells only part of the story, the conflict and sanctions seem to be hitting Europe severely: if you wanted to demolish your own economy or impoverish large sections of the population, this might be a good way to go about it.
However, the massive ‘going direct’ helicopter money given to the financial sector and global conglomerates under the guise of COVID relief was always going to have an impact once the global economy reopened.
Similar extraordinary monetary policy (lockdowns) cannot be ruled out in the future: perhaps on the pretext of another ‘virus’ but possibly based on the notion of curtailing human activity due to ‘climate emergency’. This is because raising interests rates to manage inflation could rapidly disrupt the debt-bloated financial system (an inflated Ponzi scheme) and implode the entire economy.
But lockdowns, restrictions or creating mass unemployment and placing people on programmable digital currencies to micromanage spending and decrease inflationary pressures could help to manage the crisis. ‘Programmable’ means the government determining how much you can spend and what you can spend on.
How could governments legitimise such levels of control? By preaching about reduced consumption according to the creed of ‘sustainability’. This is how you would ‘own nothing and be happy’ if we are to believe this well-publicised slogan of the World Economic Forum (WEF).
But like neoliberal globalization in the 1980s – the great reset is being given a positive spin, something which supposedly symbolises a brave new techno-utopian future.
In the 1980s, to help legitimise the deregulated neoliberal globalisation agenda, government and media instigated an ideological onslaught, driving home the primacy of ‘free enterprise’, individual rights and responsibility and emphasising a shift away from the role of state, trade unions and the collective in society.
Today, we are seeing another ideological shift: individual rights (freedom to choose what is injected into your own body, for instance) are said to undermine the wider needs of society and – in a stark turnaround – individual freedom is now said to pose a threat to ‘national security’, ‘public health’ or ‘safety’.
A near-permanent state of ‘emergency’ due to public health threats, climate catastrophe or conflict (as with the situation in Ukraine) would conveniently place populations on an ongoing ‘war footing’. Notions of individual liberty and democratic principles would be usurped by placing the emphasis on the ‘public interest’ and protecting the population from ‘harm’. This would facilitate the march towards authoritarianism.
As in the 1980s, this messaging is being driven by economic impulses. Neoliberalism privatised, deregulated, exploited workers and optimised debt to the point whereby markets are now kept afloat by endless financial injections.
The WEF says the public will ‘rent’ everything they require: stripping the right of personal ownership under the guise of ‘sustainable consumption’ and ‘saving the planet’. Where the WEF is concerned, this is little more than code for permanent austerity to be imposed on the mass of the population.
At the start of this article, readers were asked to imagine a future based on a certain set of principles associated with localization. For one moment, imagine another. The one being promoted by the WEF, the high-level talking shop and lobby group for elite interests headed by that avowed globalist and transhumanist Klaus Schwab.
As you sit all day unemployed in your high-rise, your ‘food’ will be delivered via an online platform bought courtesy of your programmable universal basic income digital money. Food courtesy of Gates-promoted farms manned by driverless machines, monitored by drones and doused with chemicals to produce crops from patented GM seeds for industrial ‘biomatter’ to be engineered, processed and constituted into something resembling food.
Enjoy and be happy eating your fake food, stripped of satisfying productive endeavour and genuine self-fulfilment. But really, it will not be a problem. You can sit all day and exist virtually in Zuckerberg’s fantasy metaverse. Property-less and happy in your open prison of mass unemployment, state dependency, track and chip health passports and financial exclusion via programmable currency.
A world also in which bodily integrity no longer exists courtesy of a mandatory vaccination agenda linked to emerging digital-biopharmaceutical technologies. The proposed World Health Organization pandemic treaty marks a worrying step in this direction.
This ‘new normal’ would be tyrannical, but the ‘old normal’ – which still thrives – was not something to be celebrated. Global inequality is severe and environmental devastation and human dislocation has been increasing. Dependency and dispossession remain at the core of the system, both on an individual level and at local, regional and national levels. New normal or old normal, these problems will persist and become worse.
The ‘green economy’ being heavily promoted is based on the commodification of nature, through privatization, marketization and monetary valuation. Banks and corporations will set the agenda – dressed in the garb of ‘stakeholder capitalism’, a euphemism for governments facilitating the needs of powerful global interests. The fear is that the proposed system will weaken environmental protection laws and regulations to facilitate private capital.
The banking sector will engage in ‘green profiling’ and issue ‘green bonds’ and global corporations will be able to ‘offset’ (greenwash) their environment-degrading activities by, for example, protecting or planting a forest elsewhere (on indigenous people’s land) or perhaps even investing in (imposing) industrial agriculture which grows herbicide-resistant GMO commodity crop monocultures that are misleadingly portrayed as ‘climate friendly’. Imperialism wrapped in green.
Relying on the same thinking and the same interests that led the world to where it is now does not seem like a great idea. This type of ‘green’ is first and foremost a multi-trillion market opportunity for lining pockets and part of a strategy that may well be used to secure compliance required for the ‘new normal’.
The future needs to be rooted in the principles of localization. For this, we need look no further than the economics and the social relations that underpin tribal societies (for example, India’s indigenous peoples). The knowledge and value systems of indigenous peoples promote long-term genuine sustainability by living within the boundaries of nature and emphasise equality, communality and sharing rather than separation, domination and competition.
Self-sufficiency, solidarity, localization and cooperation is the antidote to globalism and the top-down tyranny of programmable digital currencies and unaccountable, monopolistic AI-driven platforms which aim to monitor and dictate every aspect of life.Localization and Local Futures: The Alternative to the Authoritarian New Normal first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Below is additional data on the decline of the economy and the miserable conditions facing millions every day. The main focus is the U.S.
33% of Americans were denied credit in the past year.
81% of Americans think a recession will hit this year.
Inflation in the U.S. is more than three times higher than it was last year, straining Americans’ finances.
The extremely high cost of houses is leaving millions out of the home ownership market.
About 72% of those who bought homes within the past 2 years received help from family with their down payment.
Consumers are taking on more credit card debt, just as interest rates are expected to rise.
Bankruptcy filings are creeping back up in early 2022.
735 billionaires in the U.S. have seen their collective wealth soar by 62% over the past two years while worker earnings have grown just 10%, modest gains eaten away by the rising costs of food, housing, and other necessities.
Between 2009 and 2017 depression rates increased more than 60% among teens 14–17 years old. Other age cohorts also saw large increases during the same time period. It is reasonable to assume that even more people of all ages experienced depression and/or anxiety between 2017-2022. The “Covid Pandemic” has traumatized billions.
Across Los Angeles County, California last year (2021), the unsheltered died in record numbers, an average of five homeless deaths a day, most in plain view of the world around them.
San Francisco alone is home to 77 billionaires, but more than 34,000 people are homeless across the Bay Area and more than 800,000 live in poverty.
Security and dignity in retirement is also becoming a pipe dream for millions. Since 1974, more than 140,000 companies have ended their defined-benefit plans. More than a third of workers — more than 50 million people — don’t even have access to a 401(k) or other so-called defined-contribution plan. Of those who do, more than a quarter don’t participate.
Twenty five percent of college graduates over the age of 25 make less than $35,000 a year, with many close to the poverty level.
Globally, another quarter billion people will fall into poverty this year, Oxfam Says.
In addition, interest rates at home and abroad are expected to rise in the coming months, which means that the cost of borrowing money will increase, which means that more people will be paying even more for various forms of debt that they hold. This will reduce disposable income, which means that the standard of living and the velocity of money will further decrease as well.
There is no sign that economic turbulence, insecurity, and volatility will diminish in 2023 or 2024. We are in a deep all-sided economic crisis that is adversely affecting the social, cultural, and political spheres. The rate of profit continues to fall for owners of capital. Supply chain disruptions, production delays, delivery delays, and other economic problems continue at home and abroad as well. For example, parts for many vehicles being repaired at collision repair shops across the U.S. can take months to arrive, leaving customers and workers very frustrated.
Yet another “lost decade” is upon us. Consistent and sustained progress is elusive in an economy based on private ownership of the majority of the wealth produced by working people. Life is not going to improve when more of what workers produce is seized and controlled by even fewer people every year.
More economic updates are forthcoming. A comprehensive up-to-date picture of the economic and social carnage that is actually unfolding nationally and internationally is gradually emerging.
The necessity for change that favors the people is presenting itself very forcefully at this time. The crisis of the capitalist economic system has become unusually severe. There is a rapid breakdown at all levels, which is why life is becoming more chaotic, anarchic, violent, and untenable. The human personality is being violated severely. It is no surprise that mental and emotional illnesses have increased significantly in the recent period. Millions wake up every day asking themselves: “What shocking or horrible thing will happen today?” “What kind of bad economic news are we going to get this week?” “What new conflict, crisis, or war is upon us now?” There is no reprieve from the chaos, violence, and accelerating social and economic breakdown. Things feel like dystopian bedlam. Even worse, everyone is supposed to accept that there is no alternative to the unsustainable status quo.
But reality, life, and people have a way of being resilient and overcoming what seems like a never-ending nightmare. Nothing lasts forever, everything is transient. The thesis-antithesis-synthesis cycle has not disappeared under today’s unprecedented conditions. The dialectic lives even in these difficult times. It is up to working people and all enlightened forces to grasp this dialectic and use action with analysis to move humanity forward in a human-centered direction. It can be done and must be done.
- Many other articles containing extensive facts and statistics on economic and social decline can be found by searching for “Shawgi Tell” at Dissident Voice.