In our last show, which we entitled “The Debt Explosion: How Neoliberalism Fuels Debt Crises“, we promised that our next show would be about what the solution is, what is the solution to the myriad problems that we were describing. And that is indeed what we are going to discuss today. The solution, we feel, in the United States and in all countries that have gone down the road of neoliberalism and financialization involves a root and branch reform of the financial system. And this would be the foundation for the urgent economic transformation. It will be the single largest component of the economic transformation that so many of us realize we also badly need.
Ecuador is experiencing a wave of organized crime violence that is linked to structural problems. It is the product of a complex context divided between the increase in poverty, new drug routes worldwide and the emergence of a local narco-bourgeoisie. Amid all this, a global crisis of neoliberal capitalism, and consequently, the decomposition and rupture of the social pact between classes, peoples and hegemonic blocks. In this context, the Government of Daniel Noboa has decided to confront the wave of drug crime that is drowning Ecuador through the declaration of internal armed conflict. In other words, war against the poor, forcibly financed by the poor, supported by the middle class, and certain sectors that have been trapped by the Government’s punitive discourse.
‘The West is in danger’, warned Argentina’s new president, Javier Milei at this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos, Switzerland. In his dangerously appealing style, Milei blamed ‘collectivism’ – that is, social welfare, taxes, and the state – as the ‘root cause’ of the world’s problems, leading to widespread impoverishment. The only way forward, Milei declared, is through ‘free enterprise, capitalism, and economic freedom’. Milei’s speech marked a return to the orthodoxy of Milton Friedman and the Chicago Boys, who pushed forward an ideology of social cannibalism as the basis for their neoliberal agenda.
The world’s richest 1% own 43% of global financial assets, and the wealth of the top five billionaires has doubled since 2020, while 60% of humanity – nearly 5 billion people – collectively got poorer, according to a report by Oxfam, a leading international humanitarian organization. Oxfam published the study, “Inequality Inc.”, to coincide with the World Economic Forum meeting of corporate oligarchs and Western government officials in Davos, Switzerland this January. The five richest people on Earth in 2023 were Elon Musk, Bernard Arnault, Jeff Bezos, Larry Ellison, and Warren Buffett. Their combined wealth skyrocketed from $340 billion in 2020 to $869 billion just three years later.
The wealth of the world’s top five richest men has more than doubled since 2020 while 4.8 billion people, or 60% of humanity, have been further impoverished. At this rate, while it could only take a decade for the world to have its first trillionaire, it will take 229 years to ensure that no person is living in poverty. These findings are part of a new report titled Inequality Inc. published by Oxfam International, released on the eve of the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland. “We’re witnessing the beginnings of a decade of division, with billions of people shouldering the economic shockwaves of pandemic, inflation and war, while billionaires’ fortunes boom.
Major economic shifts are occurring in the world, in part driven by a response to Western imperialist nations' long history of attempting to impose their will through economic and military coercive measures. To understand the current state of globalization and where it is headed, Clearing the FOG speaks with Radhika Desai, the director of the Geopolitical Economy Research Group at the University of Manitoba. Desai discusses neoliberalism and how it weakens first world economies as well as alternatives such as the BRICS formation that are starting to have a significant impact in challenging Western hegemony. She also describes the current events in Western Asia as another turning point in the decline of Western power.
Political economists Radhika Desai and Michael Hudson discuss the massive explosion of debt in the US and around the world, and how neoliberal economics leads to large bubbles based on speculation and asset-price inflation.
The systematic violence which has immersed Ecuador is the product of a process of deliberate destructuring of the rule of law derived from policies implemented by the last three neoliberal governments, warned Jorge Paladines, an academic at the Central University of Ecuador and a professor of law and political science, in an interview with Sputnik. That, today, Ecuador is in a situation of internal armed conflict, that the country has been plunged into a state of emergency, and that a live television program was interrupted by armed men, is not the result of spontaneity or chance.
People across the world were shocked to see a drug gang waving rifles and grenades in the TC Television studios in Guayaquil, and the scene was perhaps the cinematic peak of successive days of explosions, riots, lootings, shootings, car explosions, and widespread panic that has paralyzed the country. However, the shocking and unprecedented episode on the public channel in Guayaquil—and the events that preceded and followed it—are just the latest chapter in a spiral of organized violence that has lasted for about five years and that has metastasized in the last two. It is the sad metamorphosis of a country that went from being the second safest in Latin America to becoming the most violent, with a homicide rate that has grown almost 800% since 2019.
The General Confederation of Labor (CGT), Argentina’s largest labor union, has called for a general strike and a march to the Congress on January 24, 2024 to protest against President Javier Milei’s Decree of Necessity and Urgency and the “Omnibus Bill” that grants absolute powers to the far-right president to govern for two years bypassing the Congress. On Thursday, December 28, the CGT, which is the common platform for the largest labor unions of Argentina, announced the general strike against Milei’s neoliberal policies which “intend to drown the country in economic and political instability.”
December 2 marked the 200th anniversary of the Monroe Doctrine, which proclaimed US dominion over Latin America and the Caribbean. Left-leaning governments in the hemisphere have had to contest a decadent but still dominant USA. Challenges in the past year include a world economic slowdown, a continuing drug plague, and a more aggressive hegemon reacting to a more volatile and disputed world order. The progressive regional current, the so-called Pink Tide, slackened in 2023 compared to the rising tide of 2022, which had been buoyed by big wins in Colombia and Brazil.
t's happening again. Reports of the death of neoliberalism are once again proliferating. Just take a look at the UK Guardian. In the UK Guardian website, there is a whole series of stories whether it is "Neoliberalism is Dying," "The Rise and Fall of Neoliberalism," "Biden Just Declared the Death of Neoliberalism," "Is Neoliberalism Finally Over?," "Is Neoliberalism Finally Dead?" and "Is the Neoliberal Era Over Yet?" And of course there are also contrary views: "The National Institutes of Health Say Neoliberalism is Not Dead." And there is also a very interesting story in The Jacobin, which says "The Rumors are False: Neoliberalism is Alive and Well." Well, this is not the first time that the death of neoliberalism has been announced.
Yesterday, Javier Milei’s intense life as a panelist came to an end and his new life as president of the nation begins. Now his words and diagnoses will have to become government actions. For this reason, his first speech in front of the Legislative Assembly, at the very moment this mutation was taking place, aroused so much interest. The first surprise was that he did not address the deputies and senators who were constituted as representatives of the people: the two assembled chambers embody the always heterogeneous preferences of our society. Milei preferred instead the esplanade and to speak to his followers, not to the people as a whole but to his own close followers.
Despite the enormous damage caused by U.S. intervention, Nicaragua’s economy has improved dramatically under the rule of Daniel Ortega, a leader of Nicaragua’s 1979 socialist Sandinista revolution who has been in power since 2007. Nicaraguan Finance Minister Iván Acosta gave an interview detailing how Nicaragua fits the broader pattern by which sanctions negatively impact working class people and the poor while doing little to affect a change in government policy. U.S. sanctions have been applied against Nicaragua based on the false claim that Ortega committed grave human rights abuses, when his government largely reacted with restraint to the violent political uprising in 2018 which caused Nicaragua’s GDP to decline by over 4%.
Across the globe, the far Right appears to be on the ascent. It has seized commanding heights in Giorgia Meloni’s Italy and Viktor Orbán’s Hungary, while formerly ostracized ethno-nationalist parties like the Sweden Democrats and the True Finns are now in governing coalitions. Shortly after this issue went to press, Argentina elected as president the voluble anarcho-capitalist Javier Milei, whose promise to commodify all facets of social life is accompanied by rabid anti-feminism and culture war invectives — “In my government there will be no cultural Marxism. I won’t apologize for having a penis. I shouldn’t feel guilty for being a white, blond, blue-eyed man.”