I have been out of the loop the past two weeks and not posting much, but that is about to change as I embark on a project or two for the site…
For one thing, I am going to start doing some research into how the austerity programs will be implemented and set up a bit of a web template for each of the twenty G20 countries to follow their ‘progress’ in implementation and look at the real world effects it is having on their populations. I will be doing some other research and writing as well on other G20 related topics, including following Wall Street’s ‘recovery’ at the same time all these austerity measures are being put forward.
In the meantime (over the next week or so), I will be posting articles such as this one to keep people up to date on what others are writing.
The European right is capitalising on a crisis
Eurozone governments and European authorities are using the economy to justify pushing through rightwing policy changes
One thing should be made clear about the situation in the eurozone economies that is not clear at all if we rely on most of the news reports. This is not a situation where countries face a “dilemma” because they have overspent and piled up too much public debt. They do not face “tough choices” that will force them to cut spending and raise taxes while the economy is weak or in recession, in order to “satisfy financial markets”.
What is really going on is that powerful interests within these countries – including Spain, Greece, Ireland and Portugal – are taking advantage of the situation to make the changes that they want. Perhaps even more importantly, the European authorities – including the European commission, the European central bank and the IMF – who are holding the purse strings of any bailout funds, are even more committed than the national governments to rightwing policy changes. And they are further removed from any accountability to any electorate.
In 13 Bankers, by Simon Johnson (a former chief economist at the IMF) and James Kwak, the authors describe the emerging market crises of the 1990s and note that Washington used them to promote changes that it wanted: “When an existing economic elite has led a country into a deep crisis, it is time for a change. And the crisis itself presents a unique, but short-lived opportunity for change.” Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine, provides an excellent history of how crises have been used to introduce or consolidate regressive and unpopular economic “reforms”.