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A world in flux: crisis to agency
Paul Rogers, Open Democracy
The world’s financial convulsions are a rare opportunity to reform global governance in ways that address the systemic inequalities of the neo-liberal age.
The extraordinary series of bank collapses and bailouts that have swirled round the world’s financial markets in September-October 2008 continues to unfold. It is palpable that in relation to the global economy (as to global security), no one – bankers, traders, politicians, national governments or international agencies – is in control. But even at this stage of the crisis (whatever that stage proves to be), it is clear that the world’s major economies are moving into recession.
(16 October 2008)
Guided by an invisible hand
Joseph Stiglitz, New Statesman
Make no mistake: we are witnessing the biggest crisis since the Great Depression. In some ways it is worse than the Great Depression, because the latter did not involve these very complicated instruments – the derivatives that Warren Buffett has referred to as financial weapons of mass destruction; and we did not have anything close to the magnitude of today’s cross-border finance.
The events of these weeks will be to market fundamentalism what the fall of the Berlin Wall was to communism. Last month in the United States almost 160,000 jobs were shed – making more than three-quarters of a million this year. My guess is that things will get considerably worse. I have been predicting this for some time, and so far, unfortunately, I have been right.
There are several reasons for my pessimism. The extreme credit crunch is a result of the banks having lost a lot of capital. And there is still uncertainty about the value of the toxic mortgages and other complex products on their balance sheets. The US economy has been fuelled by a consumption binge. With average savings at zero, many people borrowed to live beyond their means. When you cut off that credit you reduce consumption. This, in turn, will dampen the US economy, which helps keep the global economy growing. The American consumer has not only sustained the US economy, he has sustained the global economy. The richest country in the world has been living beyond its means and telling the rest of the world it should be thankful because America fuelled global economic growth.
(16 October 2008)
Saving the Working Class with Green-Collar Jobs
Bryan Walsh, Times Magazine
Van Jones does not look like your typical environmentalist. He doesn’t wear Birkenstocks. He’s African-American in a movement that tends to be overwhelmingly white. His background is in civil-rights activism — specifically prison reform — a cause he champions in Oakland, Calif. But Jones, the head of the non-profit Green For All and the author of the new book The Green-Collar Economy, could represent the future of environmentalism in America and a way for the movement to survive and even thrive through the coming recession. “The solution for the environment and the economy will be the same thing,” says Jones. (Listen to Jones talk about the green collar economy on this week’s Greencast.)…
(20 October 2008)