Tag Archives: Financial crisis

Greece Financial Crisis Hits Poorest and Hungriest the Hardest

By

ATHENS — Behind the lace curtains of a soup kitchen run by a parish in the humble Athens neighborhood of Kerameikos, the needy and hungry sit down to a plate of sliced cucumbers, three hunks of bread, a shallow china bowl of chickpea soup and often a piece of meat. Sometimes there is even ice cream, a special treat.

People prize the refectory, run by a priest, for its homeyness, and they travel long distances to fill their empty stomachs at least once a day.

But on Thursday, the priest, Father Ignatios Moschos was worried that he would no longer have enough food to go around if the country’s economic paralysis continues, as it seems likely to do even if Greece and its creditors manage to work out a last-minute deal this weekend to avert a Greek exit from the euro.

“It will be hard, dark, painful,” the priest said, nibbling from a bowl of pistachios as a long line of people waited for their turn to eat at the communal tables. “We will have trouble receiving food.”

Poverty in Greece has been deepening since the financial crisis began more than five years ago. Now, aid groups and local governments say they are beginning to feel the effects of nearly two weeks of bank closings, as Greecestruggles to keep its financial system from failing and to break out of years of economic hardship.

And any deal with creditors this weekend will bring further cuts in government spending. It will also bring higher taxes and, as a consequence, more short-term pressure on the economy.

As Athens takes on the aura of Soviet Russia, with lines of people outside banks waiting to receive their daily cash allowance, some aid groups are seeing their supply channels narrow. By some accounts, lines for food, clothing and medicine have grown fivefold in parts of the capital in the last two weeks alone.

The European Parliament president, Martin Schulz, has said he shares Greeks’ concerns. President Jean-Claude Juncker of the European Commission said this past week that the European Union was making plans for humanitarian aid to Greece to cushion the blow if a third bailout was not worked out by Sunday and Greece was forced out of the euro system.

Read more » The New York Times
See more » http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/12/world/europe/greece-debt-crisis-athens-poverty-inequality.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

Switzerland: 2,500 franc basic monthly income for every one

Swiss to vote on 2,500 franc basic income for every adult

(Reuters) – Switzerland will hold a vote on whether to introduce a basic income for all adults, in a further sign of growing public activism over pay inequality since the financial crisis.

A grassroots committee is calling for all adults in Switzerland to receive an unconditional income of 2,500 Swiss francs ($2,800) per month from the state, with the aim of providing a financial safety net for the population.

Organizers submitted more than the 100,000 signatures needed to call a referendum on Friday and tipped a truckload of 8 million five-rappen coins outside the parliament building in Berne, one for each person living in Switzerland.

Read more » Reuters
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/04/us-swiss-pay-idUSBRE9930O620131004

The Real Numbers: Half of America in Poverty — and It’s Creeping toward 75%

The Census Bureau has reported that one out of six Americans lives in poverty. A shocking figure. But it’s actually much, much worse.

The Census Bureau has reported that one out of six Americans lives in poverty. A shocking figure. But it’s actually much worse. Inequality is spreading like a shadowy disease through our country, infecting more and more households, and leaving a shrinking number of financially secure families to maintain the charade of prosperity.

1. Almost half of Americans had NO assets in 2009

Analysis of  Economic Policy Institute data shows that Mitt Romney’s famous  47 percent, the alleged ‘takers,’ have taken nothing. Their debt exceeded their assets in 2009.

Continue reading The Real Numbers: Half of America in Poverty — and It’s Creeping toward 75%

Canada drops out of top 10 most developed countries list

The United Nations human development index now ranks Canada as 11th

By the Canadian Press

Canada has slipped out of the top 10 countries listed in the annual United Nation’s human development index — a far cry from the 1990s when it held the first place for most of the decade.

The 2013 report, which reviews a country’s performance in health, education and income, places Canada in 11th place versus 10th last year.

Continue reading Canada drops out of top 10 most developed countries list

Noam Chomsky: Can Civilization Survive Capitalism?

Capitalism as it exists today is radically incompatible with democracy.

There is “capitalism” and then there is “really existing capitalism.”

The term “capitalism” is commonly used to refer to the U.S. economic system, with substantial state intervention ranging from subsidies for creative innovation to the “too-big-to-fail” government insurance policy for banks.

The system is highly monopolized, further limiting reliance on the market, and increasingly so: In the past 20 years the share of profits of the 200 largest enterprises has risen sharply, reports scholar Robert W. McChesney in his new book “Digital Disconnect.”

Continue reading Noam Chomsky: Can Civilization Survive Capitalism?

Fallout from ‘Untouchables’ Documentary: Another Wall Street Whistleblower Gets Reamed

By: Michael Winston

A great many people around the county were rightfully shocked and horrified by the recent excellent and hard-hitting PBS documentary, The Untouchables, which looked at the problem of high-ranking Wall Street crooks going unpunished in the wake of the financial crisis. The PBS piece certainly rattled some cages, particularly in Washington, in a way that few media efforts succeed in doing. (Scroll to the end of this post to watch the full documentary.)

Now, two very interesting and upsetting footnotes to that groundbreaking documentary have emerged in the last weeks.

The first involves one of the people interviewed for the story, a former high-ranking executive from Countrywide financial who turned whistleblower named Michael Winston. You can see Michael’s segment of The Untouchables at around the 4:20 mark of the piece. The story Winston told during the documentary is essentially an eyewitness account of the beginning of the financial crisis.

Continue reading Fallout from ‘Untouchables’ Documentary: Another Wall Street Whistleblower Gets Reamed

Capitalism Becomes Questionable – by Richard D. Wolff

The depth and length of the global crisis are now clear to millions. In the sixth year since it started in late 2007, no end is in sight. Unemployment rates are now less than halfway back from their recession peak to where they were in 2007. Over 20 million are without work, millions more limited to part-time work, millions have been foreclosed out of their homes. Those who retain jobs suffer declining real wages, fewer benefits, reduced job security, and more work. This year of “austerity” began with an increase in the payroll tax rate for over 150 million wage-and-salary earners from 4.2 to 6.2 per cent (a 48% increase from 2012) — a far more significant tax event than the trivial — but wildly hyped — increase of taxes on those earning over $450,000 annually from 35 to 39.6 per cent (a 13% increase from 2012). Austerity deepens as Republicans and Democrats negotiate merely details of their agreements to cut government spending on social programs helping working people.

Between the crisis and today’s austerity policies lie the bailouts — a bought government’s program to aid mega-finance and other large corporations with unlimited funds unmatched by anything comparable for the mass of working people and smaller businesses. The bailouts worked for them, for the large corporations who secured them for themselves. For that reason, “recovery” blessed them while it bypassed everyone else. Now austerity policies shift onto the general population major portions of the costs of the crisis and the bailouts. The situation is so bad and US government complicity with capitalists at the people’s expense so exposed that the capitalist system is becoming questionable. Criticism challenges the last half-century’s treatment of capitalism as the absolutely best possible economic system, beyond any need for discussion or debate, justifiably implanted around the world by military force, etc.

First of all, this deep and long crisis undermines decades of confident assurances and predictions that another deep capitalist depression was no longer likely or even possible. Capitalism’s inherent instability overwhelmed and thus proved the futility of efforts to prevent its crises. Moreover, both conventional and extraordinary monetary and fiscal policies failed repeatedly to bring Europe, Japan, and the US out of the crisis. Central banks, international agencies, and national executives charged with economic responsibilities have, since 2007, spoken with assurance and met often, posed for media photos, puffed and threatened, made a few last-minute, stop-gap agreements, resolved to meet again and do more at the next meeting. However, the crisis continued for most people. In many places it has gotten much worse. All this challenges glib notions that capitalism’s highest authorities have the system “under control.”

Implicitly, at first, millions of people began to question whether capitalism does still “deliver the goods” as its defenders so long insisted. In the US, declining economic conditions for parents coupled with rising school debts and declining job prospects for their children suggest rather that capitalism “delivers the bads.” The widening inequalities of wealth and income that contributed to the crisis have in turn been further aggravated by it.

Continue reading Capitalism Becomes Questionable – by Richard D. Wolff

Canada – Manufacturing sales drop sharply

By: The Canadian Press

Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales fell 3.1 per cent in December to $48 billion, the largest decline since May 2009 and worse than expected. ….

Read more » CBC
http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2013/02/15/business-manufacturing-drop.html

Canada jobs figure shrinks for first time in 6 months

Canada’s economy shed 22,000 jobs in January, but a corresponding drop in the number of unemployed people looking for work caused the jobless rate to also drop, to seven per cent.

Statistics Canada said the jobless rate ticked 0.1 percentage points lower as 57,500 people stopped looking for jobs — more than enough to offset the decline in the number of jobs.

“It had to be coming,” CIBC economist Avery Shenfeld said in reaction to the news.

In the last five months of 2012, the Canadian economy cranked out an average of 37,000 jobs a month. That was against a backdrop of official GDP data that showed the economy wasn’t expanding much.

With those two data points at odds, something had to eventually give. “The only question was when,” Shenfeld said.

Most of the job losses came from the public sector, where there were 27,000 fewer positions. Self-employment rose slightly, and the private sector was largely unchanged, the data agency said.

Self-employment tends to tick higher following job losses in conventional industries, as people decide to start their own businesses.

Construction boom

The manufacturing sector lost 22,000 jobs, bringing total employment in that key sector down to the same level it was at a year ago. The construction industry was a bright spot, adding 17,000 positions during the month.

“Given the recent slowdown in homebuilding and ongoing public sector restraint, we do not expect the strong hiring gains in the [construction industry] to be sustained,” Scotiabank economist Derek Holt said following the release of the data.

Read more » CBC
http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2013/02/08/business-jobs-canada.html