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Big Food, Big Profits, Big Lies

As food costs have skyrocketed for Americans, some of the country’s biggest chains and grocery brands, including General Mills, PepsiCo, and Tyson, have blamed the price hikes on supply chain issues and economywide inflation. But behind the scenes, these companies have expanded profits and quietly authorized billions of dollars in lucrative stock buyback programs and dividend payouts to shareholders.

Used Clothing Market In US Grew 7x Faster Than General Clothing Retail

Sales of secondhand clothing are on their way to making up 10 percent of the fashion market worldwide, as environmental concerns and high prices inspire consumers to shop for pre-loved items, according to a 2024 Resale Report by online thrift and consignment shop ThredUp. The 12th annual study, conducted by analytics firm GlobalData, includes projections through 2033. Its findings are based on a survey of 3,654 consumers in the United States, as well as a survey of 50 of the country’s top fashion brands and retailers, a press release from ThredUp said.

Farmers’ Protests Challenging EU Policies Spread To Eastern Europe

Farmers and their unions in Eastern and Central Europe, are mobilizing in large numbers against growing economic distress. They have expressed their rejection of provisions in the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the Green Deal, and against the high cost of production and low incomes, import of tariff-free grains from Ukraine war efforts, and exhaustive bureaucratic procedures in farm-related laws and regulations. Farmers affiliated with the Agrarian Chamber of the Czech Republic (AKCR), Slovak Chamber of Agriculture and Food Industry, unions in Poland, and many others participated in rallies and road blocks on February 22, demanding concrete policy measures from their respective governments and the European Union (EU) in solving their grievances.

It’s Important To Focus On Companies Using Inflation To Jack Up Prices

If you buy groceries, you know that prices are high. And if you read the paper, you’ve probably heard that prices are high because of, well, “inflation,” and “shocks to the supply chain,” and other language you understand, but don’t quite understand. One article told me that economists see pandemic-related spending meant to stabilize the economy as a factor, along with war-impacted supply chains and steps taken by the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates —all of which may be true, but still doesn’t really help me see why four sticks of butter now cost $8. Not to mention that the same piece talks matter of factly about “upward pressure on wages,” which sounds like people who need to buy butter are getting paid more, but I’m pretty sure the language is telling me I’m supposed to be against it.

Cuba’s Humanitarian Crisis

Nine years ago, on December 17, 2014, jubilation swept the through the city of Havana when Presidents Barack Obama and Raúl Castro announced that they would normalize US-Cuban relations, after 55 years of hostility. Church bells rang, cars honked their horns, and people hugged each other in the streets. Today, the mood in the city is one of desperation. The economy is spiraling downward, and US policy is exacerbating the growing humanitarian crisis. President Donald Trump’s tough economic sanctions drastically reduced Cuba’s foreign exchange earnings, and President Joe Biden has left most of those sanctions in place.

World’s Economic Centre Of Gravity Is Returning To Asia

In October 2023, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) published its annual Trade and Development Report. Nothing in the report came as a major surprise. The growth of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) continues to decline with no sign of a rebound. Following a modest post-pandemic recovery of 6.1% in 2021, economic growth in 2023 fell to 2.4%, below pre-pandemic levels, and is projected to remain at 2.5% in 2024. The global economy, UNCTAD says, is ‘flying at “stall speed”’, with all conventional indicators showing that most of the world is experiencing a recession.

Thousands Take To The Streets In Argentina

Thousands of Argentines demonstrated, this Wednesday December 20, “against the economic austerity measures” implemented by Javier Milei’s government. The day was marked by high tension early on, following a major police operation carried out at the main entrances to the city of Buenos Aires. The Minister of Security, Patricia Bullrich, announced that she would debut her “anti-picketing protocol”, presented last Friday December 15, and threatened that they would not allow the demonstration to take place. However, the call to mobilization managed to overcome the fear that the government tried to install.

Why Mainstream Economics Got Inflation Wrong

Austin - In his November 7, 2023 New York Times newsletter, the economist Paul Krugman asks a good, albeit belated, question: Why did so many economists get the inflation outlook wrong? After all, the near-consensus among mainstream economists in recent years was that inflation would persist – and even accelerate – and that this justified substantial interest-rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve. Yet the quasi-inflation of 2021-22 proved transitory. Krugman poses his question with impeccable diplomacy, professing “respect” for three authors of a September 2022 paper published by the Brookings Institution (which was then promoted by Harvard University’s Jason Furman) projecting that it would take at least two years of unemployment at 6.5% to bring inflation back to the Fed’s self-imposed 2% target.

Poverty Rose In 2022 As Inflation Surged, Pandemic Aid Terminated

In the aftermath of pandemic relief programs such as increased unemployment and nutrition benefits, greater rental assistance and the child tax credit — policies which the Biden administration allowed to expire in 2021 — Americans faced the largest one-year increase of poverty on record. According to a report from the Census Bureau published on Sept. 12, the sharpest increase in poverty affected children, as child poverty more than doubled from a record low of 5.2 percent to now 12.4 percent. This was indicated by the Supplemental Poverty Measure, which “factors in the impact of government assistance and geographical differences in the cost of living.”

Tenants And Left In Austria Demand Rent Freeze To Tackle Housing Crisis

In the wake of an unabated housing crisis and soaring rents, working class sections in Austria have intensified their campaign demanding long-term rent freeze and reforms in the country’s rental law. In its petition, the Communist Party of Austria (KPO) demanded the Austrian People’s Party (OVP)-Greens-led federal government to freeze rents at the current levels until 2029. The Communist Youth of Austria (KJO) endorsed this demand. Groups including the Austrian Tenants’ Association and the Austrian Trade Union Confederation (ÖGB) have also called for a freeze on rents. According to reports, persistently high inflation and a rising Consumer Price Index (CPI) led to a continuous increase in rental prices across the country.

How The Global Financial System Traps Countries In Debt

So what we were going to talk about is really the Third World debt crisis, the new Third World debt crisis. How similar and how different is it from the one that hit the Third World back in the 1980s? What has been the specific contribution, if any, of the pandemic and the war? And what is the future of the Third World, given that in addition to all the other calamities, it is now hit with this debt crisis? Now, last time we started with a list of seven questions and we only got through the first two. So let me just go through the seven questions and then we will begin with the third question. So the first question was, what was the genesis of the 1980s debt crisis?

It’s Hard To Engage In China-Bashing Without Tripping On Contradictions

The contradictions of China-bashing in the United States begin with how often it is flat-out untrue. The Wall Street Journal reports that the “Chinese spy” balloon that President Joe Biden shot down with immense patriotic fanfare in February 2023 did not in fact transmit pictures or anything else to China. White House economists have been trying to excuse persistent U.S. inflation saying it is a global problem and inflation is worse elsewhere in the world. China’s inflation rate is 0.7 percent year-on-year. Financial media outlets stress how China’s GDP growth rate is lower than it used to be. China now estimates that its 2023 GDP growth will be 5 to 5.5 percent.

Corporate Profits Were Biggest Driver Of Inflation In Europe

Corporate profits have been the biggest contributor to inflation in Europe since 2021. This is according to a study published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). “Rising corporate profits account for almost half the increase in Europe’s inflation over the past two years as companies increased prices by more than spiking costs of imported energy”, wrote IMF economists this June. The IMF said “companies may have to accept a smaller profit share if inflation is to remain on track to reach the European Central Bank’s 2-percent target in 2025”. IMF economists Niels-Jakob Hansen, Frederik Toscani, and Jing Zhou detailed their findings in a research paper, “Euro Area Inflation after the Pandemic and Energy Shock: Import Prices, Profits and Wages”.

A New Third World Debt Crisis? The Need For System Change

Today we are joined by Anne Pettifor to discuss an urgent issue of our time, that of the third world debt crisis. As we record this, this is the topic of the Summit on New Global Financing Pact called by Emmanuel Macron in Paris. And we couldn’t find a more authoritative guest for this show. Anne Pettifor does not really need any introduction, and I’m only going to give one to remind ourselves of the range of her contributions. She’s a prolific writer on issues relating to debt, finance and development, and is also an activist and has intervened in politics to great effect.

The Rise And Rise Of Far-Right In Germany

The political class in Germany is stunned by the findings of a YouGov poll published on Friday that 20% of voters would give their vote to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), making it the second-strongest party behind the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) (28%) and ahead of center-left Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) (19%). There is no mistaking that it is a political earthquake. Given Germany’s proportional representative system — which is unlike the US or the UK where, too, politics is fractious but is protected by the first-past-the-pole voting system — it is reasonable to estimate that the current “traffic-light” coalition between the SPD, the Greens (who polled 15%) and the neo-liberal Free Democrats or FDP (7%) no longer has a mandate to rule, after only one and a half years in office.
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