10,000 people took to the streets on Sunday, November 12 to protest the start of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Meetings taking place in San Francisco this week. The APEC summit will run from November 11 to 17. The protest took place following a 1,000-person APEC counter-summit on November 11. The mobilizations have been organized by the No to APEC Coalition, which represents almost 150 organizations across the United States. “APEC is the epitome of all that is wicked and corrupt in our society today,” said Simon Ma, a family doctor and member of the anti-imperialist Korean-American organization Nodutdol. He described APEC as a “cabal of billionaires and politicians scheming behind closed doors, trying to come up with new and innovative ways to further exploit the working class of our planet.”
The UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights has called on the CEOs of Amazon, Walmart and DoorDash and the US government to address allegations that top US corporations pay such low wages that they trap workers in poverty, forcing them to rely on government-assistance programs to survive. Olivier De Schutter has written to the three major US corporations and the US government, requesting responses to numerous allegations. They include a 2020 US Government Accountability Office report that found Amazon and Walmart were listed among the top 25 employers with workers relying on the supplemental nutrition assistance program (Snap), formerly known as food stamps, or Medicaid in nine states studied, with Walmart ranked first and Amazon ranked sixth.
From 9 to 15 October, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank held their annual joint meeting in Marrakech (Morocco). The last time that these two Bretton Woods institutions met on African soil was in 1973, when the IMF-World Bank meeting was held in Nairobi (Kenya). Kenya’s then President Jomo Kenyatta (1897–1978) urged those gathered to find ‘an early cure to the monetary sickness of inflation and instability that has afflicted the world’. Kenyatta, who became Kenya’s first president in 1964, noted that, ‘[o]ver the last fifteen years, many developing countries have been losing, every year, a significant proportion of their annual income through deterioration of their terms of trade’.
Many states across the Southern United States employ an economic model that prioritizes business interests and the wealthy over ordinary citizens. This model—which we refer to in this report as the “Southern economic development model”—is characterized by low wages, low taxes, few regulations on businesses, few labor protections, a weak safety net, and vicious opposition to unions. The model is marketed as the way to attract businesses into Southern states, with the implicit promise that this will lead to an abundance of jobs and shared economic prosperity for all Southerners. The reality is this economic development model is fundamentally flawed as a strategy for improving living conditions for most Southerners.
There is no doubt about it: China is rising. Whether it sparks hope and interest or fear and worry, it is impossible to ignore the country’s rapid economic and social transformation. Just a few decades ago, the words “made in China” were a synonym for bad quality junk. But today, China leads the world in all manner of high-tech industries, including photovoltaic cells, semiconductors, 5G communications technologies, and electric vehicles. Along with rapid economic growth has come a huge increase in living standards. By 2018, China overtook the United States in average healthy life expectancy, and wages are soaring.
Poverty in Puerto Rico, under US colonialism, is getting worse over time, not better. More than two-fifths of Puerto Ricans suffer from poverty, and nearly three-fifths of Puerto Rican children live in poor households. In 2022, the poverty rate in the colonized US “territory” grew from 40.5% to 41.7%, according to US Census Bureau data. A staggering 57.6% of Puerto Rican children live in poverty. And 38.8% of families are below the poverty line. Poverty has been growing in Puerto Rico even at a time when more people are working. The unemployment rate fell from 13.1% to 9.9% in 2022, while poverty got worse.
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.”
On Thursday Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva presented an ambitious plan to take the South American country off of the world hunger map. “The problem is not a lack of food, it is not a lack of crops, the problem is that the people do not have enough to buy food,” Lula said in a public event in the city of Teresina. In his speech he reminded that his program to fight poverty has as a connecting axis to address the structural causes of hunger that it is not limited to just economic aid but also must have an articulated policy. For this reason, he stressed that the Bolsa Familia program is not enough and does not represent a definitive solution, but a necessary step to ensure that the wealth produced in the country is distributed more equitably.
A quick trip through any major American city and you can see it for yourself – “tent cities” underneath highways or alongside parks, people sleeping on the sidewalk, overcrowded and resource-stripped shelters. It is estimated that there are nearly 600,000 homeless people across the US, marking the highest yearly surge since the government began tracking the data in 2007, according to the Wall Street Journal. Major cities like Los Angeles are seeing homeless populations spike almost 10 percent from last year. This problem has been deeply exacerbated in the post-pandemic era. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, rent was already skyrocketing due to inflation levels as well as “development projects”, forcing long-time residents, mainly minorities, out of their own neighborhoods.
Washington, DC — A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research examines key indicators for Ecuador’s economy and finds that significant gains of the 2007–2017 period have been erased by subsequent governments that returned to the International Monetary Fund and slashed spending. As a result, poverty and economic inequality have increased, as have crime, insecurity, and worsened health outcomes. “The data make it clear: things have gotten much worse in Ecuador since 2017, with the return to the IMF and to destructive austerity,” CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said.
On August 10, the Mexican National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (CONEVAL) released a report revealing that from 2018 to 2022, the poverty rate declined from 49.9% of the population below the poverty line to 43.5%. In Mexico, the income poverty line is measured as those earning below the monetary value of what is required to afford food and non-food necessities each month. In these same four years, the “multidimensional poverty” level decreased from 41.9% to 36.3% of the total population. Multidimensional poverty is a unique metric used in Mexico to measure poverty not only in terms of income levels, but also in terms of the deprivation of social rights.
In late July, I visited two settlements of the Landless Rural Workers (MST) on the outskirts of São Paulo (Brazil). Both settlements are named for brave women, the Brazilian lawmaker Marielle Franco – who was assassinated in 2018 – and Irmã Alberta – an Italian Catholic nun who died in 2018. The lands where the MST has built the Marielle Vive camp and the Irmã Alberta Land Commune were slated for a gated community with a golf course, and a garbage dump, respectively. Based on the social obligations for land use in the Brazilian Constitution of 1988, the MST mobilised landless workers to occupy these areas, build their own homes, schoolhouses and community kitchens, and grow organic food.
When Dartmouth history professor Annelise Orleck was still working on her first book, Common Sense and a Little Fire: Women and Working Class Politics in the United States, 1900-1965, she learned about the work of an intrepid group of low-income, southern-born women in Las Vegas, Nevada. Thirteen years of research and interviews followed. The result, Storming Caesars Palace: How Black Mothers Fought Their Own War on Poverty, tells the amazing story of fed-up and reviled welfare recipients who organized on their own behalf, winning a raft of financial, medical and educational improvements for themselves, their children and their westside community.