The 20th Century saw a great global uprising against European imperialism as the former colonial countries shook off their shackles and rose up for independence. More than a half century later, global inequality is sharper than ever before. To understand the current predicament of the vast majority of the world’s people, we must understand the intervening decades. Matt Kennard and Claire Provost‘s book, Silent Coup: How Corporations Overthrew Democracy, looks inside the international architecture of global corporate governance that exists to flout and crush any attempts by the former colonial world to enact development on their own terms. Matt Kennard joins The Chris Hedges Report for a look at this intriguing and essential history.
On July 24, it was revealed that Transparency International’s New Zealand wing had enlisted the specialist advice of some of the country’s biggest, most notorious lobbying firms on improving ethical standards in the political and corporate lobbying industry. A local businessman, who’d independently offered to assist TINZ in cleaning up the sector, blew the whistle. Expressing “astonishment,” they compared TINZ’s consultation of high-ranking lobbyists on how to clean up their own industry as akin to “police recruiting gang members to determine new rules on pursuit of fleeing drivers.” Yet, anyone familiar with Transparency International’s history would hardly be surprised.
The first day of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg saw calls for a more democratic global economic order with greater participation of countries from the Global South. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa set the tone by underlining that BRICS stands for inclusiveness and transparency in its development agenda and must continue to do so. Speaking on the second day, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also said that India fully supports the expansion of the bloc, adding that it welcomed “moving forward with consensus on this.” India also reiterated its proposal for the African Union’s membership in the G20.
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?
Change is coming to the World Bank. While not expected to be formalized until October, it looks like the two big shifts will involve climate change and a bigger emphasis on middle income countries. It’s difficult to predict exactly how the new mission will play out, but one thing is clear: the efforts are being driven by the desire to counter/thwart Beijing’s expanding global influence. Both Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan devoted chunks of their big China speeches in April to the subject. And it looks like the reforms will go hand in hand with pushing the debunked narrative that Chinese lending is a debt trap while also trying to relegate China to the backseat in the growing number of distressed countries.
The BRICS bloc of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa is expanding, and building a new economic architecture to challenge the dominance of the US dollar. One of the most important institutions created by the BRICS is the New Development Bank (NDB). This is a Global South-oriented alternative to the World Bank, which is located in and essentially controlled by the United States. In March 2023, the NDB inaugurated its new chief: Dilma Rousseff, the former president of Brazil, from the South American nation’s leftist Workers’ Party. Rousseff has stressed that the NDB’s goals are financing “infrastructure investments” and “helping our members combat poverty, create jobs, and promote environmentally sustainable development”.
Washington, DC – UNITE HERE Local 23 on Thursday released the results of a survey of 76% of the Compass workers who staff food service at the World Bank that detail ways workers struggle to afford necessities like food and housing. Workers are in negotiations for new union contracts that keep up with the cost of living and additionally announced a picket line action on the Compass-operated cafeteria at the World Bank on Wednesday, April 12. UNITE HERE is in negotiations with Compass Group for workers in cafeterias at several high-profile DC locations in addition to the World Bank, including the Smithsonian, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the National Institute of Health, Freddie Mac, pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, American University, Catholic University of America, and George Washington University, among others.
In late February, US President Joe Biden announced that the United States had placed the nomination of Ajay Banga to be the next head of the World Bank, established in 1944. There will be no other official candidates for this job since, by convention, the US nominee is automatically selected for the post. This has been the case for the 13 previous presidents of the World Bank; the one exception was acting president Kristalina Georgieva of Bulgaria, who held the post for two months in 2019. In the official history of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), J Keith Horsefield wrote that US authorities “considered that the Bank would have to be headed by a US citizen in order to win the confidence of the banking community, and that it would be impracticable to appoint US citizens to head both the Bank and the Fund.”
Natalie Rhodes, PhD candidate at University of Leeds, and People’s Health Movement, along with Remco van de Pas, researcher at the Centre for Planetary Health Policy, and People’s Health Movement discuss in detail about the implications of the newly established World Bank fund for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response and the Bank’s other policies pertaining to public health.
Dozens of protesters demonstrated outside the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington DC on Thursday (Oct 13), expressing opposition to funding of fossil fuels and demanding urgent action to tackle climate change. Some of the activists gathered on bicycles and called for support for nations affected by climate change. They carried posters that said "World Bank of climate chaos", "stop funding fossil fuel", "People over profit" and "actions speak louder than words".
As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 rips through the world’s population, the World Bank has forecast slowing global growth for 2022 as well as the following year in its Global Economics Prospects report issued on Tuesday. While it was certainly not its intention, the report is an exposure of the claims by capitalist governments that no serious public health measures can be undertaken to eliminate the pandemic because they would be detrimental to the “economy.” In fact, as the figures in the report make clear, the policy of “let it rip” being pursued by virtually all governments is producing ever worsening economic conditions. No changes will be made, however, as the economy is completely subordinated to finance capital which opposes any measures that impede the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a rapacious oligarchy.
A few days ago, I spoke to a senior official at the World Health Organisation (WHO). I asked her if she knew how many people lived their lives on our planet without shoes. The reason I asked her this question is because I was wondering about Tungiasis, an ailment caused by the infection that results from the entry of a female sand flea (Tunga penetrans) into the skin. This problem has a variety of names in many different languages – from jigger or chigoe to niguá (Spanish) or bicho do pé (Portuguese) to funza (Kiswahili) or tukutuku (Zande). It is a terrible problem that disfigures the feet and makes mobility difficult. Shoes prevent these fleas from burrowing into the skin. She was not sure about the number but presumed that at least a billion people must live without shoes.
Amid findings that the combined wealth of the planet's billionaires skyrocketed to $10.2 trillion during the coronavirus pandemic, the World Bank warned Wednesday that the public health crisis could cause global extreme poverty to rise for the first time in over two decades and push tens of millions of people into that category by next year. "Between 88 million and 115 million people could fall back into extreme poverty as a result of the pandemic, with an additional increase of between 23 million and 35 million in 2021, potentially bringing the total number of new people living in extreme poverty to between 110 million and 150 million," the report says.
During the last few weeks, neoliberalism faced a series of defeats that sped up its agony and are leading to its death amidst large and violent upheavals. After nearly half a century of pillage, outrage and crimes of all kinds against society and the environment, we witness the downfall of the ruling model promoted enthusiastically by the governments of advanced capitalist countries; institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank; and self-righteous intellectuals and establishment politicians.
Robert McNamara and president Luis Echeverria (1970-1976) were thick as thieves. The Mexican president had cracked down on the radical left. From 1973 on, Mexico’s foreign currency revenue soared thanks to the tripling of oil prices. This increase in currency revenue should have prevented Mexico from borrowing. However the volume of WB loans to Mexico rose sharply: it quadrupled from 1973 to 1981 (from USD 118 million in 1973 to 460 million in 1981). Mexico also borrowed from private banks with the World Bank’s backing.