Banks back on offensive against G20 reform; G8 aid shortfall

Banks back on offensive against G20 reform; G8 aid shortfall

Bank lobby says no to G20 reform

I dug up this nugget from a couple of weeks ago – it seems that banks are back on the offensive – despite having caused the economic crisis.

The Institute of International Finance (IIF), a bank lobby group representing over 400 companies, said “a need to hold more capital, pay more taxes and other possible reforms could hit economic growth hard.”  Thus, they urge the G20 to back off on regulation and reform. Convenient.

The G20 has certainly left the door open for this.   It’s reorientation towards deficit cutting to satisfy financial markets, as well as the waning of G20 discussion of the bank tax, are both indications to financial institutions that they are in the drivers seat and might as well start driving.  The banks know that G20 governments are already on their side and willing to give them what they want.

This is all very troubling, and says a lot about the extent to which we are held hostage to those that created the economic mess in the first place.  If reform of any kind will hurt growth, doesn’t that mean we have set up a system in which we are handcuffed from doing anything that banks don’t want?  Isn’t it time for a fundamental rethink given the deep crisis that the banks put us in?

There were dissenting voices at the conference where the IIF made its push against reform.  “We find ourselves in a situation eerily reminiscent of the 1930s,” billionaire U.S. investor George Soros said. “Many governments have to reduce debt under pressure from financial markets. This is liable to push the global economy into a double dip.”

G8 countries have fallen $10B short of commitments: report

The report from Oxfam said the Group of Eight countries account for about 70 per cent of official development assistance, suggesting the G8 share of the $10-billion shortfall from 2005 summit pledges in Gleneagles, Scotland, is about $7 billion.

Given circumstances, there is a deep need for this aid, as it represents, in the words of Oxfam’s Mark Fried,”vital medicines, kids in school, help for women living in poverty and food for the hungry”

Calls for the aid must also come with demands for economic justice and autonomy. Trade and investment rules are stacked against the poorest countries of the world and then the G8 actively works to undermine self-sufficient initiatives puts forth by southern countries.  Then they offer aid where they get to fully control the agenda and use it for political purposes (‘you want aid, do this…’). And they can’t even fulfill those aid commitments.

PM Harper & bankers dance through downtown

PM Harper & bankers dance through downtown

From The Spoke, Monday June 21st,

On Thursday, June 17, Stephen Harper led a procession of wealthy bankers through the streets of Toronto. Harper and his bankers were followed by a human oil slick. Overworked tax-payers scrambled behind the oil slick with mops and brooms to clean up the mess while Harper and his bankers counted their giant $1billion bills. The action, which was organized by the At the Table Coalition, was a tongue-in-cheek commentary on spending for the G8 and G20 summits when foreign aid has been frozen and Canada’s fair share on climate adaptation has yet to be paid.

Get the full issue of the Monday Spoke

PHOTO: Allan Lissner. [Please check out more of Allan’s fantastic photojournalism]

Why We As Labour Will Be Going to the G20 summit Fence

Why We As Labour Will Be Going to the G20 summit Fence

This is a call from a number of union members to fellow labour and working class people.  It challenges labour to not accept the concept and confines of designated protest zones and is a call for mutual respect for those who go to the summit fence and those who don’t go to the fence.  It is an important attempt to build solidarity and decrease division amongst groups that need to work together.

I have reprinted in full from this Facebook call out… where they have asked people to please forward it widely.

On June 26th, as labour and working class activists and militants, we will be going to the fence when the People’s First demonstration circles back to Queen’s Park.

We will do this to confront and expose the profiteers of the G20 who have been secured behind walls of steel, guns and military force.

We will do this because we remember our history – workers who lost their lives in struggle so we could have the 8 hour day, and homes with families in them burned to the ground so we could have Saturday as part of the weekend.

We will do this because we know our present world is one that workers and trade unionists are being killed as we speak in countries around the globe to continue to ensure that blood for profit is maintained.

We will do this because we know our future will be the strength of all the working class coming together in solidarity to resist and fight back against capitalism.

We will do this because we do not agree with “designated protest zones” that curtail our civil liberties and oppose a “militarized security zone” in the middle of our city which negatively impacts our communities.

This is why we will be going to the fence.

We also respect the choice of our sisters and brothers, allies and comrades who do not to go the fence just as we know they will respect our choice.

We also know that there are many of our sisters and brothers, allies and comrades who do not have the choice and can not join in this collective resistance due to status, fear of threat, or reprisal.

“We’ll live together or we’ll die alone
In our world poisoned by exploitation
Those who have taken, now they must give
And end the vanity of nations

We’ve but one Earth on which to live
And so begins the final drama
In the streets and in the fields
We stand unbowed before their armour

We defy their guns and shields
When we fight, provoked by their aggression
Let us be inspired by like and love
For though they offer us concessions
Change will not come from above”
Lyrics by Billy Bragg from The Internationale

Endorsements: – see Facebook page

We are asking for individuals, locals, labour organizations and/or unions to endorse this call out. Please DM or post on the wall if you want to be added as an endorser (Facebook page). Union and/or organizations are listed for identification purposes only.

G20 state of play: Austerity or recovery?

G20 state of play: Austerity or recovery?

The money talk on the inside leading up to the G20 summit

  • The G20: Fiscal Austerity or Coordinated Recovery? Excellent backgrounder by Andrew Jackson on the ‘state of play’ leading up to the summit, on whether countries should be working to expand demand (stimulus) or contract (ie spending cuts, deficit reduction).   The overall push is for deficit reduction as I have written about here, but some countries are going to have to expand domestic consumer demand in order for there to be a market out there.  The US has traditionally played this role, expanding deficits and credit to ensure growth in consumer demand, but there are signs that the U.S. may end this role at the G20.  Which countries might take it on?  Will it be the ones with large surpluses (esp. China) who can handle it, but may not want to?
  • China doesn’t want the G20 to chastise them about their currency valuation (background here), and warns that focusing on them could derail the G20.  China also reiterated their warning about over-focus on deficits at the G20 and that stimulus should not be fazed out all at once.    Background on the G20 renewed focus on cuts and deficit reduction and the serious repercussions that will likely have for the world – here, and here.
  • Canada wants the reform focus at the G20 to be on adjusting bank capital and leverage standards to reduce risk and increase solvency.  Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said this is “the main issue, we shouldn’t be distracted by side issues”.  By ‘side’ issues, he is clearly making another push to keep any form of  bank tax or levy off the agenda and quite possibly might also be hinting at not letting climate change get in the way either.

Other G20 news:

  • Speak the f**k up. Great event Wednesday night in Toronto breaking down Canada’s G8 maternal health plan.  Watch panelist Antonia Zerbisias
  • Toronto hotel workers plan strike:  The workers’ union is calling for the parent company, Accor to respect a previously signed trade union rights agreement.  Be there anytime all day to support or at 4:30 on June 24th for a planned rally!  Also, here is an audio interview on chronic understaffing at luxury hotels.
  • But I’m just a sapling. You’ve no doubt heard about the trees being uprooted in the security zone for the G20. But here it is again, humourously
Perspectives: Toronto Community Mobilization Network

Perspectives: Toronto Community Mobilization Network

I spoke with A.K. Hussan, a member of the Toronto Community Mobilization Network (TCMN), one of the major bodies coordinating events and protests around the G20 summit in Toronto. Hussan discusses the TCMN’s structure and goals, what the issues are that they have mobilized around, etc…

1. What is the Toronto Community Mobilization Network (TCMN)? [1:24]

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2. Why is the TCMN opposing the G20 and G8? [1:34]

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3. From the perspective of the TCMN, what will be taking place on the inside of the G20 and G8 summits? [1:16]

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4. Hussan’s thoughts on the G20 media coverage thus far [0:33]

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About the TCMN [from their website]:

The network is a collection of Toronto-based organizers and allies, that will use the fleeting moment of the G8/G20 meetings in Toronto in June 2010 in Ontario to come together and share the work that we do every other day of the year.  We will build the momentum for a movement for Indigenous Sovereignty and Self-Determination, Environmental and Climate Justice, Migrant Justice and an End to War and Occupation, Income Equity and Community Control over Resources, Gender Justice and Queer and disAbility rights.

The so called ‘leaders’ and bankers of the twenty richest countries are meeting in Huntsville and Toronto on 25-27 June 2010 at the G8 and G20 Summits. They are meeting to make decisions that will result in more exploitation of people and the environment. They want to ensure that the systems that increase colonization, wars and displacement are maintained. In direct resistance, we are coming together to create a just world that puts people before corporate and elite profit.

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