All posts tagged: IMF

The Obvious Dirty Dealings Behind Julian Assange’s Arrest

The US has been planning to have Julian Assange handed over for a longtime, that much is obvious. Mike Pence, the Vice President, was visiting Ecuador last year, notionally to discuss the Venezuela situation, and trade. But it was fairly obvious at the time, and even more so now, that they were discussing the details of Assange being handed over to UK authorities, and eventually extradited to the US. “Trade”, indeed.

Accomplishments of Eleven Years of the “Process of Change” in Evo Morales’ Bolivia

by  Stansfield Smith, January 4, 2019, Chicagoalbasolidarity Evo Morales will soon have been the president of Bolivia for 12 years, heralding the ascent of the indigenous social movements to governmental power. This ended the apartheid system against the indigenous that existed for 500 years in Bolivia. Evo won in 2005 with 53.7% of the vote, followed by re-elections in 2009 with 64.2% and 2014 with 61.3%. The country has made great strides in economic development, national sovereignty, women’s and Original Peoples’ rights, respect for Mother Earth, raising the people’s standard of living, level of education, and health care. His presidency, which has brought an era of relative social peace and economic growth, has been the longest in Bolivia’s history.  Since 1825 Bolivia has had 83 presidents with 37, almost half, by means of coup d’etats.  Previous presidents typically lacked social legitimacy, representing a political system that excluded participation of the indigenous peoples, plagued by social and economic inequality, subjugated to foreign interests, and complicit with the looting of natural resources.  By 2002, after years of …

Greece has become the EU’s third protectorate

by Jan Zielonka, August 14, 2015, OpenDemocracy The EU looks increasingly like an empire, having just created its third protectorate in the Balkans. Greece will effectively be run by the EU the way Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina already are. The EU looks, walks and talks like an empire. After extending its borders into Central and Eastern Europe, the EU has just created its third protectorate in the Balkans. From now on Greece will effectively be run by the EU the way Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina already are. Empire is not a synonym of evil despite some bad historical connotations, especially from the colonial era. Power can be exercised in noble ways, and peripheries often prefer to be “conquered” than abandoned. However, the EU’s ambition to run dysfunctional countries by decree is doomed to fail and will represent yet another blow to the project of European integration. Formal involvement of the UN or the IMF in running the protectorates will not exonerate the EU. Enlargement to Central and Eastern Europe has been successful because it empowered local actors. …

What is the European Union For?

by Frank After all the initial eu(ro)phoria and hopes placed upon the original concept of a non-aligned, social-democratic Euro-bloc, the reality has turned out somewhat differently. In a pamphlet written in 2011 – Europe: The Unfinished Project – I wrote: At the present time the EU project seems to be stuck in no-man’s land, unable to press ahead with full political integration, or retreat back into a northern European protectionist Deutschmark zone, and leaving the peripheral member states to the tender mercies of unfettered, globalized capitalism. However there seems to be a sufficient residue of the original EU idealism in the present stage of development to persevere further with the political struggle taking place.” Ibid, page 19 I believe that this view, which seemed justifiable and plausible enough at the time of writing, has now become difficult to sustain. And the reason for this came in the next sentence, viz. One only has to consider the Anglo-American alternatives (to the Euro model) and globalization more generally to make this choice.” This statement was, however, based …

Nobel Economics Versus Social Democracy

by Avner Offer, October 10, 2016, via Project Syndicate Of the elites who manage modern society, only economists have a Nobel Prize, whose latest recipients, Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmström, have just been announced. Whatever the reason for economists’ unique status, the halo conferred by the prize can – and often has – lend credibility to policies that harm the public interest, for example by driving inequality and making financial crises more likely. But economics does not have the field entirely to itself. A different view of the world guides the allocation of about 30% of GDP – for employment, health care, education, and pensions – in most developed countries. This view about how society should be managed – social democracy – is not only a political orientation; it is also a method of government. Standard economics assumes that society is driven by self-seeking individuals trading in markets, whose choices scale up to an efficient state via the “invisible hand.” But this doctrine is not well founded in either theory or practice: its premises are …

Reforming the international institutional framework – Part 1

by Bill Mitchell, Economic Outlook Net This continues the unedited excerpts that will appear in my new book (with Italian journalist Thomas Fazi) which is nearing completion. This material will be in Part 3 where we present what we are calling a ‘Progressive Manifesto’, which we hope to provide a coherent Left philosophy to guide policy design and policy choices for governments that are struggling to see a way beyond the neo-liberal macroeconomics. In this blog I examine how the international institutional framework has to be reformed to serve a progressive agenda where rich countries (and the elites within them) do not plunder then pillary poor countries. Central to this new framework is the abolition of the World Bank, the IMF and the OECD, all of which have become so sullied by neo-liberal Groupthink that they are not only dysfunctional in terms of their original charter but downright dangerous to the prosperity and freedoms of people. Former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz told journalist Greg Palast in an interview in 2001 that the IMF …

After Greece and Cyprus, they prepare to attack Italy

by Simon Wilson, MoneyWeek Italian banks are on the brink of collapse and EU rules make bail-outs seem politically impossible. Will they fall – and who will they take down with them? Why the worry over Italian banks? A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of banking collapses in Italy, which could lead to renewed crisis in the eurozone, and a wider banking crisis affecting other countries with high exposure to Italian bank debt. Italy’s banks are in deep trouble, weighed down by €360bn of bad debt (“non-performing loans” in the jargon), equivalent to a fifth of Italy’s GDP (and about 18% of all the banks’ loans). Shares in the sector have slumped this year as investors began to price in the risk of banking collapses. One of the worst affected has been Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the world’s oldest bank. The sell-off has gathered pace since the shock of the Brexit vote on 23 June caused investors to reevaluate the risks facing European assets. Why are the banks so vulnerable? Most fundamentally …

Debt and Austerity: Greece Continues to Be Sucked Dry

by Peter Koenig, via Global Research How long will this go on? How long will we see the photographs of a Mr. Tsipras and his Finance Minister in despair. Yet the blood-letting continues. Already new austerity measures are being projected for 2018 – between 5.4 billion EUR asked by Europeans and 9 billion EUR requested by IMF – and the securing of the Greek debt sustainability through deep restructuring measures (meaning more selling of public assets to foreign corporations), as reported by journalist Yannis Kibouropoulos. Yes, € 9 billion by the IMF, of all institutions! The very organization that has ostensibly pledged with Greece’s creditors to forgive some of the debt to let the country breathe. This noble idea seems to have given in to the abject, murderous greed of the banks, one among them, the Deutsche Bank, currently the most vulnerable and indebted in the world, not just in Europe, for its derivative exposure of almost € 66 trillion, or about the world’s GDP. The globe’s most criminal financial speculator is to be paid more …

Brexit: A Workers’ Response to Oligarchs, Bankers, Flunkies and Scabs

by James Petras, July 14, 2016 Introduction: The European Union is controlled by an oligarchy, which dictates socio-economic and political decisions according to the interests of bankers and multi-national business. The central organs of power, the European Commission (EC), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have systematically imposed austerity programs that have degraded working conditions, welfare programs, and wages and salaries. EU policies demanding the free immigration of non-unionized workers to compete with native workers have undermined wage and workplace protections, union membership and class solidarity. EU financial policies have enhanced the power of finance capital and eroded public ownership of strategic economic sectors. The European Union has imposed fiscal policies set by non-elected oligarchs over and against the will and interests of the democratic electorate. As a result of EU dictates, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland have suffered double-digit unemployment rates, as well as massive reductions of pensions, health and educational budgets. A huge transfer of wealth and concentration of decision-making has occurred in Europe. Rule by EU fiat …

Life in a Modern-day Debt Colony: The Truth about Greece

by Michael Nevradakis, via 99GetSmart In May, likely for the first time in the post-war history of the Western world, a national parliament willingly ceded what remained of its country’s sovereignty, essentially voting itself obsolete.  This development, however, did not make headlines in the global news cycle and was also ignored by most of the purportedly “leftist” media. The country in question is Greece, where a 7,500-page omnibus bill was just passed, without any parliamentary debate, transferring control over all of the country’s public assets to a fund controlled by the European Stability Mechanism, for the next 99 years.  This includes all public infrastructure, harbors, airports, public beaches, and natural resources, all passed to the control of the ESM, a non-democratic, supranational body which answers to no parliamentary or elected body.  Within this same bill, the “Greek” parliament also rendered itself voteless: the legislation annuls the role of the parliament to create a national budget or to pass tax legislation.  These decisions will now be made automatically, at the behest of the European Union: if …

Brexit and the Diseased Liberal Mind

by Jonathan Cook The enraged liberal reaction to the Brexit vote is in full flood. The anger is pathological – and helps to shed light on why a majority of Britons voted for leaving the European Union, just as earlier a majority of Labour party members voted for Jeremy Corbyn as leader. A few years ago the American writer Chris Hedges wrote a book he titled the Death of the Liberal Class. His argument was not so much that liberals had disappeared, but that they had become so coopted by the right wing and its goals – from the subversion of progressive economic and social ideals by neoliberalism, to the ethusiastic embrace of neonservative doctrine in prosecuting aggressive and expansionist wars overseas in the guise of “humanitarian intervention” – that liberalism had been hollowed out of all substance. Liberal pundits sensitively agonise over, but invariably end up backing, policies designed to benefit the bankers and arms manufacturers, and ones that wreak havoc domestically and abroad. They are the “useful idiots” of modern western societies. Reading this piece …

Nuland to Congress: We Spend $100 Mil a Year Trying to Destabilize Russia (Video)

by Ricky Twistdale, via Russia Insider On Tuesday [June 7, 2016], the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations scheduled a two-hour anti-Russian hate-fest. Lies, misinformation and jaw-dropping stupidity were on full display. The star witness of course, was Tricky Vicky Nuland. These congressional committee meetings crack me up. In theory, they’re supposed to be interviewing witnesses to collect information. In reality it’s a platform for congressmen to make speeches satisfying the special interests who own them and then they read questions from prepared notes provided to them by “experts” or lobbyists (or maybe the witnesses themselves). Then they get the answers they want to hear from the witnesses. It is 100% theater. Nuland’s opening statement was full of scare mongering about the supposed threat to peaceful civilization from Moscow. She did provide some telling facts. She said the US had already spent $600 million on “security assistance” to Ukraine – so on top of other billions in handouts from the IMF, most of which was stolen by oligarchs, that’s money going directly to killing kids in Donbass. …

Buy Buy Europe, Part 4: Bratwurst, Lederhosen and Minijobs

by Stuart Jeanne Bramhall, Film Review Buy, Buy Europe by Peter De Vos (2013) is a five-part miniseries describing how European banks have hijacked the euro monetary union to vastly increase their wealth. The upcoming Brexit vote in Britain makes this a particularly relevant topic. Part 4:  Bratwurst, Lederhosen and Minijobs This was the most eye-open segment for me. It exposes the punitive conditions imposed on German workers from 2000 with the goal of making German export industries more competitive. Under former chancellor Gerhart Schroeder, massive wage reductions were imposed on all German workers – something IMF chief Christine LaGarde likes to call “labor market reform.” Among other labor “reforms,” were a massive increase in “minijobs” – low wage part-time temporary positions that pay an average of 400 ($US 448) euros a month. Given Germany’s high cost of living, both parents need to work 2-3 “minijobs” (if they can find them) to cover a family’s basic needs. The result was truckloads of cheap German imports flooding into southern EU countries (Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy), …

How “German logic” turns into irrationality

by Dimitris Konstantakopoulos, Katehon I remember the talk I had with the German Ambassador in Athens and Mr. Tsipras in February 2013, during a reception at the Russian Embassy.  I was speaking with the Ambassador, when Tsipras, then leader of the opposition, as he finished his private discussion with the Russian ambassador, saw us talking and approached.  I was in a rather jovial mood, so I decided, out of a sudden inner impulse, to make a joke, which was not in reality so much a joke.  As Tsipras joined our company, I said “you will destroy Europe”. The way I put it, not looking specifically to any of my interlocutors, it was not clear  whom I was really addressing.  They both jumped on their feet asking me: “Who?” (will destroy Europe).  “Both”, I answered them.  “You will revolt”, I said looking to Tsipras and then, turning to the German ambassador, I added, “and you will suppress him”. Fifteen years ago I interviewed Karl Lamers about German strategy towards Europe and the world.  He is supposed …

Iceland proves the nation state is alive and well

by Bill Mitchell, May 31, 2016 On May 27, 2016, Statistics Iceland (the national statistical agency) released the news – Iceland economy to grow by 4.3% in 2016.  The nation is enjoying strong household consumption and investment growth and tourism is driving export growth.  Inflation is low and the exchange rate, which depreciated sharply during the crisis, is stable, if not steadily appreciating again.  Compare that to the Eurozone Member States, which are in varying states of moribund.  We also learned this week that the Icelandic government has increased the intensity of its capital controls and is forcing speculative capital to behave itself.  For those who think the state is dead, particularly those on the Left who promote grand (delusional) schemes of a Pan Europe Democracy as the only way of taking on the powers of corporations, Iceland proves that neo-liberalism has to work through the legislative capacities of sovereign states. Corporations do not have armies (usually).  They have to manipulate the legislative process in their favour.  The currency-issuing state is still supreme – globalisation …

VIDEO: Buy, Buy Europe, Part 1: A Bank Crisis a Week

Or, How European Banks Hijacked the Euro Monetary Union, by Stuart Jeanne Bramhall, Film Review Buy, Buy Europe by Peter De Vos (2013) is a five-part miniseries describing how European banks have hijacked the euro monetary union to vastly increase their wealth. The upcoming Brexit vote in Britain makes this a particularly relevant topic. The series begins by describing the history of the European monetary union. Built at the height of neoliberalism it adopted all the rhetoric of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Alan Greenspan promising that globalized capitalism and free markets would end economic crises, increase prosperity and end inequality. What really happened is that creating the euro massively increased inequality between northern and southern Europe and between workers and the super rich. In seeking to make European banks as strong and competitive as US and British banks, Eurozone leaders ceased regulating them. Wall Street is often blamed for the EU’s 2008 meltdown. In actuality, deregulated European banks were equally guilty of risky speculation in derivatives and subprime mortgages. Following the 2008 economic crash, …

James K. Galbraith on Greece: Austerity without debt relief

by Lynn Parramore, via DDP Economist James K. Galbraith warns that ‘unrealistic expectations’ by Athens’ creditors is a recipe for turmoil. A breakdown in negotiations may be the best outcome of Monday’s Eurozone finance ministers’ meeting on debt relief for Greece, warns INET grantee and University of Texas economist James K. Galbraith. That’s because, he believes, Greece’s debtors continue to demand unsustainable austerity measures as the price for bailout funds — measures the Greek government will, sooner or later, be forced to halt. “A breakdown of the [Brussels] discussion would be the best outcome,” Galbraith says. “That would move some of the creditors a little bit more towards reality, perhaps. There’s no point in making more concessions to them. They just keep on asking for more. There’s no way to satisfy these people. They’re engaged in a land grab. They have a strategy to achieve that, but the time of reckoning will come sooner or later.” The Brussels meeting follows a day of dramatic protests by thousands of citizens in Athens and Thessaloniki on Sunday, …

I am not Greek! But is Schäuble a German?

by Dimitris Konstantakopoulos, via DDP I usually work more than ten hours a day and most of the weekends. I am often happy with what I do and I don’t want to complain, as it is very rare for people to be doing what they really want to do. Still, I criticize myself for not being able to master my life and enjoy it more. But now I am in deep confusion. Recently some European politicians and parties have been returning to the argument that Greeks are lazy and that Europeans should immediately put a stop to the money they are paying to help us. Of course I don’t believe those conspiracy theorists who keep telling us that Goldman Sachs and other institutions of the same kind orchestrated a financial attack on Greece in 2009-10, after first launching a preliminary “communication” attack against Greeks, portraying them as lazy, disorganized and corrupt. These conspiracy theorists say this massive “communication” attack served no other purpose than to justify what they afterwards did to Greece. They are even …

China: Preserving Sovereignty or Sliding into Western Sponsored ‘Color Revolutions’

by Peter Koenig, originally for Asia-Pacific Research On April 28, the New York Times was blasting “Clampdown in China Restricts 7,000 Foreign Organizations”.  A perfect reason for demonizing China for infringing on the liberties of foreign NGOs – NGO’s that try to help and do good in China.  The ‘doing good’ is a concerted effort by foreign agents, including international and national organizations and NGOs that receive foreign training and funding to influence public opinion and eventually to cause civil unrest.  Imagine, foreign agents teaching and influencing students at Chinese universities with western interests of, for example, privatizing China’s public and social services; or directly interfering in sovereign state affairs, by for instance attempting to rig the Shanghai stock exchange. Let’s put this Chinese ‘clampdown’ in perspective.   infiltrate US territory under all sorts of philanthropic pretexts, but in reality to subvert the US population against their government?   Well, there is no need to speculate with the answer.  It’s very clear, they would simply be banned.  So, this is not even a game on equal …

BRICS Under Attack: Western Banks, Governments Launch Full-Spectrum Assault On Russia

by Eric Draitser, via Mintpressnews The U.S.-NATO Empire, with its centers of power in Washington, on Wall Street, and in the city of London, is on the offensive against the BRICS countries. This assault takes many forms, each tailored to its specific target. The ongoing soft coup in Brazil has recently entered a new stage with the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff of the left-wing Workers’ Party. Simultaneously, the destabilization of the ANC-led government in South Africa continues as political forces align to remove President Jacob Zuma. These two situations illustrate clearly the very potent forms of subversion via Western-funded political formations and movements being employed against Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the bloc of emerging economies also known as BRICS. However, when it comes to a country as large as Russia, with its vast military capabilities, consolidated and wildly popular political leadership, and growing antagonism toward the West, the tools available to the Empire to undermine and destabilize are in some ways more limited. Indeed, in the context of Russia, the popular …