The conditions of nearly 90% of the International Monetary Fund's pandemic-related loans are forcing developing nations suffering some of the world's worst humanitarian crises to implement austerity measures that fuel further impoverishment and inequality, an analysis published Tuesday by Oxfam International revealed. Oxfam found that "13 out of the 15 IMF loan programs negotiated during the second year of the pandemic require new austerity measures such as taxes on food and fuel or spending cuts that could put vital public services at risk." This stands in stark contrast with IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva's admonition to the European Union last year that the wealthy bloc should not endanger its economic recovery with "the suffocating force of austerity."
The crush of people began at the 9 de Julio subway stop downtown, less than a block from the Buenos Aires obelisk, the city’s most recognizable monument. By 5:00 p.m. on February 8, thousands from over 100 trade unions, human rights organizations and student groups had blocked the main thoroughfare to protest a preliminary agreement between the Peronist, center-left government of Argentinian President Alberto Fernández and the International Monetary Fund. Amid a cacophony of competing drumbeats, demonstrators along Roque Saenz Peña bore signs that read “With the IMF, we return to the bottom,” “The IMF is poverty and unemployment,” and “Enough of austerity.”
On official forecasts, the British public is facing the biggest fall in living standards since records began. This is in the headlines now because of the huge rise in energy bills, which will force more households into choosing between eating and heating. Blaming Russia for the surge in energy prices is a classic conjuror’s trick of misdirection. The US gets almost zero oil from Russia, but is currently experiencing even higher consumer price inflation. In reality, a laissez-faire approach to the energy sector is at the root of the problem in both the UK and the US. In France, where EDF is largely nationalized, energy prices are set to rise – but by just 4%. Government and especially Treasury ideology going back to Margaret Thatcher has been based on false assertions about the superiority of private enterprise.
On October 18, 2021, Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency for 60 days. This declaration led to the constitutional rights of Ecuadorian nationals being suspended and heavily armed troops flooding the streets in Ecuador. The immediate reason for the declaration was the murder of an 11-year-old boy named Sebastián Obando, who was killed in a crossfire between “an armed robber and a police officer” on October 17 at a cafeteria and ice cream parlor in the Centenario neighborhood in Guayaquil. The boy, who was shot three times, was shot in the heart, right arm and his back, said his father Tomás Obando. Lasso’s declaration of emergency built on the public outcry relating to this murder.
Now, inflation is actually here. Never mind the fact that the Fed believes that inflation can be kept under control, and that more government spending is in order — all popular media coverage of inflation occurs in the frame of fear. A little evidence of inflation combined with a lot of fear of inflation will be the formula for turning inflation into a political weapon in service of austerity.
Stencilled in red on the walls of Santiago, Chile is a statement of fact: ‘your privileges are not universal’ (tus privilegios no son universales). This is a factual declaration because the privileges of power and property are not shared across the gaping class divide. Consider the fact that before the pandemic struck last year, over 3 billion people – or half the world’s population – had no access to health care. This data appears in a 2017 World Health Organisation (WHO) report that tracks important matters such as access to basic household sanitation (lacked by 2.3 billion people) and medical care for uncontrolled hypertension (suffered by 1 billion people). An Oxfam report from 25 January 2021 called The Inequality Virus points out that ‘the pandemic could cause the biggest increase in inequality since records began, as it precipitates a simultaneous and substantial rise across many countries’.
February 1, 2021 - Industries across Haiti are shut down today as workers in multiple sectors participate in a 48-hour general strike. The strike was called by the labor unions following years of struggle in Haiti against brutal austerity and government corruption. Part of the reason behind the general strike is that the current president of Haiti, Jovenel Moïse, is refusing to step down on February 7, when many believe that his term is up under the constitution. Moïse claims that his term isn’t up until February 7, 2022, as he was elected to a five year term in 2017. Many fear that Moïse is taking the preparatory steps to rule as a dictator of Haiti.
Ten years ago, tens of thousands of students flooded the streets of London protesting against fees, cuts and demanding free public education in the biggest student demonstration in British history. They took over the Conservative Party headquarters, hanging red and black flags from the rooftop and surrounding the building with barricades. The demonstration marked the rebirth of the British student movement and the beginning of a new generation of activists that would confront marketization and austerity over the coming decade. Though students could not stop the further commodification of higher education, they succeeded in generating a culture of anti-market resistance, popularized the demand for public free education and contributed to the rise of democratic socialism in the UK.
When Rishi Sunak delivered the spending review earlier this week, the coverage focused predictably on levels of government borrowing. With GDP set to contract by more than 11% in 2020 – the largest fall in three centuries – and unemployment expected to reach 7.5%, government spending is the only thing standing between the UK economy and complete economic meltdown. As a result, we’re forecast to see the highest levels of public borrowing since the Second World War. In this context, Sunak felt the need to balance some new spending pledges...
At least 10,000 people rallied in the central square of the country’s capital, in front of the seat of government, to express their dissatisfaction after 10 months of President Alejandro Giammattei’s administration and the approval of the 2021 budget — the largest budget in the country’s history. These latest events are part of rising discontent in the country in response to the policies of Giammeattei’s government and the right-wing party he represents, Vamos, as well as the deteriorating economic situation in Guatemala, which has been devastated by the pandemic and back-to-back hurricanes this fall.
With just weeks until the 2020 election, the USPS is racing to prepare for a historic surge in mail-in voting. Our recent analysis of USPS records, which we received via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, suggests that the number of mail-delivery complaints has risen since March, especially in communities of color. For nearly 250 years, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has been a cherished giant of public life. Its reach is immense: In 2019, postal workers traveled 1.34 billion miles to deliver nearly 143 billion pieces of mail around the globe.
The enormous economic dislocation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic offers a unique opportunity to fundamentally alter the structure of society, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) if using the crisis to implement near-permanent austerity measures across the world. 76 of the 91 loans it has negotiated with 81 nations since the beginning of the worldwide pandemic in March have come attached with demands that countries adopt measures such as deep cuts to public services and pensions — measures that will undoubtedly entail privatization, wage freezes or cuts, or the firing of public sector workers like doctors, nurses, teachers and firefighters.
On an otherwise typical summer day, rumors started spreading in the small rural mountain community of Munds Park in northern Arizona: The local post office had been shuttered. As the chatter and gossip grew on social media, Allison Tiffany, a seasonal resident, drove down to check. She found a suspension notice taped to the building’s glass door. “It was so shocking that you had to find out for yourself,” she said. “Sure enough, the doors were locked.” The closure was “extraordinarily disruptive,” said Tiffany, who became the de facto organizer of the community’s response.
We are living in tumultuous times. The core capitalist countries are rapidly abandoning any pretense of democracy and advancing toward war. We, the oppressed peoples and working class people of the world, must take decisive action to stop the advance of authoritarianism and the potential restoration of the neo-liberal fragmentation and austerity which delivered us to this moment. The United States is now a powder-keg. Right-wing forces are threatening and assaulting progressive forces with deadly intent and outcomes all over the country.
In the aftermath of the covid outbreak and in a moment of Black Lives Matter national organizing in response to police brutality the issue of racial justice has lit up cities and towns across the country. Racist policing practices have had a huge impact on public opinion, with polling data showing that even more white suburban voters favor policy reforms. The shift has been public, sudden, and potentially electorally-decisive during this political season. What remains less visible are racialized and racist choices to deepen state disinvestment in institutions critical to the health and welfare of Black and brown communities, what we term racialized austerity.