The IMF released a report today on the Bolivian economy in which it recommends adopting drastic neoliberal measures, including; reducing workers’ salaries, cutting public investments, and ending currency controls. These policies have turned Bolivia from one of the poorest countries in the region into it’s fastest-growing economy. The report takes aim at the government’s spending on development, saying, “The government must restrict spending, including eliminating the end of year wage bonus for workers, they must restrict the growth of wages for public sector workers, and limit the growth of public investment and subsidies.” The ‘end-of-year wage bonus’ for workers (in both the public and private sector) refers to a policy introduced under Evo Morales that requires employers to pay their workers a bonus equal to double their monthly wage, but only if annual GDP growth is over 4.5%.
Ukrainian President and part-time celebrity endorsement-provider Volodymyr Zelensky rang the bell at the opening ceremony for the New York Stock Exchange on September 6. Zelensky’s virtual arrival to Wall Street was intended as an opportunity to pitch his government’s newly-launched #AdvantageUkraine campaign to investors. The appeal represents a collaboration between the Ukrainian government and WPP, the largest advertising firm in the world. The president’s Wall Street event coincided with an impending economic collapse in Western Europe, where the European Investment Bank has admitted the Ukraine proxy war could “push many into poverty.”
Hoping to recapture the White House in the United States’ bicentennial year, Congressional Democrats introduced legislation to guarantee a job to nearly every adult who wanted one. Sponsored by Minnesota’s liberal lion, U.S. Senator Hubert Humphrey, and California Congressman Augustus Hawkins – one of the founders of the Congressional Black Caucus – the bill would’ve required the executive branch to establish nationwide quotas for industrial output, and forecast the number of jobs necessary to meet those annual benchmarks. However many jobs the private sector could not – or would not – provide would be absorbed by the federal government at the prevailing wage.
Malaysia’s longest-serving Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad warned that the US is trying to start a war with China over Taiwan. He also explained how imperialism is rooted in capitalism and detailed its economic exploitation of the Global South. It’s quite obvious that when the Eastern bloc was still there, it was a bustle between capitalism and communism. Once communism was defeated, then capitalism could expand and show its true self. It’s no longer constrained by the need to be nice, so that people will choose their so-called free-market system as opposed to the centrally planned system. So because of that, nowadays there is nothing to restrain capital, and capital is demanding that it should be able to go anywhere and do whatever it likes.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron, a former banker, warned that “we are living the end of what could have seemed an era of abundance,” calling it “a kind of major tipping point or a great upheaval.” Western wars and sanctions are boomeranging back at home. The neoliberal phase of capitalism is collapsing. Neoliberalism has lost the key pillars it was built on: cheap energy and raw materials from Russia, cheap labor and consumer goods from China, an unsustainable bubble of household debt, low to zero interest rates, and Washington’s ability to organize regime-change operations in any country where a government tried a socialistic or state-led economic model.
The prosecutors and judges who intend to politically destroy the current Vice President of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, have had their shot backfire. Those who, after years of unsuccessful judicial and media set-ups, sometimes forged in the very same office of the former right-wing president Mauricio Macri, are now asking for 12 years in prison and to perpetually disqualify her from holding public office. Charges that venal judges and Macri’s cronies would be happy to impose on her as a sentence. They already have it written, thundered Cristina, who made a memorable plea via digital networks from her office as president of the Senate, when the judge denied her the right to speak to refute elements recently introduced by the prosecutors and never previously aired in the process.
The Police of the State of Puerto Rico, a dependent territory of the United States, dispersed Thursday night a demonstration of dozens of Puerto Ricans in Old San Juan, who were staging a protest against LUMA Energy due to the constant power outages. This is the most recent episode of the protests that have been shaking the Caribbean island for days, although it is the first one that culminated with a confrontation between demonstrators and police, and one person arrested. The Teachers Federation also joined Thursday night's protest, as did the president of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP), Juan Dalmau. The demonstrations followed calls made last Monday by a group of legislators from the House of Representatives and social organizations to mobilize as a way to put pressure on the pro-U.S. Governor Pedro Pierluisi to cancel the contract granted to LUMA Energy.
After four years of a right-wing Bolsonaro government, Brazilians will vote for a new president on 2 October 2022. Former president Lula—currently high in the polls—is confronting an increasingly delirious incumbent, who appears to have threatened violent unconstitutional action should he lose. Bolsonaro’s victory came two years after the impeachment of Workers’ Party president Dilma Rousseff in 2016, the first woman to be president. The Workers’ Party (aka Partido dos Trabalhadores, or PT) had held office since 2003. The period 2010-2016 was dominated by the ‘credit crunch’ crisis that sent the world into turmoil, with a generalised economic contraction, huge indebtedness in the advanced economies, and a considerable reduction in the consumption of raw materials. Brazil was badly hit.
With its economic and military might, America is hard to beat on technological wonders, space exploration, and top-notch universities. But when it comes to health, a fundamental prerequisite to a fulfilling life, the US isn’t delivering and hasn’t been for a long time. Researchers now find that the big picture of health failings is even graver than we already knew. Piles of studies have called attention to the fact that in the country ranking number one in healthcare spending per capita, people are living shorter lives, feeling more depressed, and are more likely to skip treatment due to cost than in many developed nations. In a performance ranking of 11 high-income countries compiled by the Commonwealth Fund in 2021, the American healthcare system came in dead last, with the worst outcomes of any of the nations studied.
While the United States and Europe flood Ukraine with tens of billions of dollars of weapons, using it as an anti-Russian proxy and pouring fuel on the fire of a brutal war that is devastating the country, they are also making plans to essentially plunder its post-war economy. Representatives of Western governments and corporations met in Switzerland this July to plan a series of harsh neoliberal policies to impose on post-war Ukraine, calling to cut labor laws, “open markets,” drop tariffs, deregulate industries, and “sell state-owned enterprises to private investors.” Ukraine has been destabilized by violence since 2014, when a US-sponsored coup d’etat overthrew its democratically elected government, setting off a civil war.
The decade since the abolition of the university fee cap in 2012 has felt painfully long for staff and students. Universities are no longer fertile ground for public knowledge but an exercise in marketized competition, commodification and over-inflated managerialism. Accordingly, students are increasingly framed as consumers entrapped in swelling debt, while overworked academics are forced to dedicate more time to admin than to teaching or research. It’s not that the university sector is strapped for cash. With more than 2,500 managerial staff on six-figure salaries and the average vice chancellor raking in £250,000, students know exactly where their £9,000 a year is going. Moreover, with the decline in direct government funding and the near abolition of teaching and maintenance grants, universities are becoming bigger players in the finance sector.
Dialogue between government and protesters in Panama continued for the second day on July 22, discussing the cost of the basic food basket, one of the main causes of the protests that have rocked the country over the past three weeks. The protest leaders proposed a reduction of 30% of prices of the items of the basic food basket, while the government proposed a 15% cut, as well as including 17 more products in the price control scheme. This would take the list to a total of 35 products. There was also a discussion for creating a committee on price control to follow up on the issue. Government representatives said that, in any case, the responsibility to ensure these issues would fall on the authority for consumer protection and defense of competition (ACODECO). Meanwhile, posts and videos circulating on social media show empty shelves in supermarkets and grocery stores.
By the end of the 1970s,U.S. capitalism entered its neoliberal phase where austerity and privatization reigned supreme. Federal agencies such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) were reduced to near non-existence. Welfare was eradicated all together in 1996 and tens of thousands of public housing units were demolished or privatized under the Bill Clinton administration. CAP agencies either shut their doors permanently or offered only the services that were supported by a mixture of private philanthropy and meagre government subsidy. It was out of this environment that Tri-CAP formed to address the growing problem of extreme poverty, addiction, and homelessness in the cities of Everett, Malden, and Medford. By the time I arrived as a caseworker in the fall of 2013, Tri-CAP had already experienced years of shrinking state and federal funds
The situation in Panama is becoming increasingly tense as more people join in what has become a permanent strike expressed in street protests. During the last few weeks, there have been several strikes in the transportation sector, especially in agricultural transportation, but the government has not offered any solutions to the demands so far. The lack of response has generated growing discontent, and since last Thursday, teachers have joined the transport workers declaring a permanent strike, paralyzing a large part of the country’s economic activity.
After more than two weeks of mobilization, people’s movements in Ecuador reached an agreement with the government, bringing the national strike to halt. On Thursday, June 30, representatives of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), the Council of Indigenous Evangelical Peoples and Organizations of Ecuador (FEINE) and the National Confederation of Peasant, Indigenous and Afro-descendant Organizations (FENOCIN) formally recognized a list of measures announced by the government, including a 15-cent reduction of the price of diesel fuel per gallon and a continuation of the discussion on the inclusion of Indigenous communities in debates that impact their livelihoods, like exploitation of land and water sources.