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End the rule of the 1% as economy implodes

The force of the global economic implosion, which has seen unemployment skyrocket to a 17-year high in the UK, overwhelmed its first eurozone government last night. It is unlikely to be the last.

The Slovakian parliament voted to reject a stronger European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF) and hence a second rescue package for Greece. This was despite immense political pressure from the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund, as well as the US administration.

They all warned of the systemic nature of the worsening crisis and the direst of consequences for the world capitalist economy should Greece be allowed to fail. As a result of the vote, the coalition government of Slovak Prime Minister Iveta Radicova fell after a small party in her ruling coalition refused to back the plans.

The EFSF is the capitalist powers’ main weapon in dealing with the debt crisis that threatens the European common currency, the region's banks and the global financial system. But eurozone rules require all of the 17 member states to ratify the new plan and Slovakia was the last to vote after all the others had given their agreement.

Now the international lending agencies, responsible for holding the crumbling system together, have to stitch together a new interpretation of the rules allowing the package to be put into operation, whilst they wait to see if a more compliant government will emerge in Slovakia.

Just a few short weeks remain before the Greek government will run out of money and cease to be able to pay wages or pensions for the public sector employees who make up one fifth of the country’s workforce. But the price of the new, wholly inadequate deal would see further tax rises, jobs destroyed, wages cut and – to the banks’ horror – a write-down of the money they are owed by the Greek government by as much as 50%.

As those in the race to contain or deflect the impact of the deepening crisis struggle with its European expression, insolvency practitioners in the United States and elsewhere are gearing up for a busy time ahead.

Bankrupt book chain Borders, for instance, recently closed its doors after failing to find a buyer. Moody's credit rating agency says the number of troubled companies rose for the third month in a row in September, an ominous sign similar to the third quarter of 2007 when the economy slid into recession and the ensuing crash engulfed the world.

And in another blow for the New Green Dealers who are promoting an eco- friendly growth-oriented capitalist solution to climate change, recent failures included renewable energy companies Evergreen Solar and Solyndra. The latter collapsed in a politically-charged bankruptcy after taking a $535 million loan from the US federal government.

This time around China cannot come to the aid of the ailing system. As is now becoming clear, its huge injection of spending on infrastructure developments to ward off the impact of the global crisis on its domestic economy, has taken its toll internally.

A Reuters special report on China noted:

Local governments had amassed 10.7 trillion yuan in debt at the end of 2010. The government expects 2.5 to 3 trillion yuan of that will turn sour, while Standard and Chartered reckons as much as 8 to 9 trillion yuan will not be repaid – or about $1.2 trillion to $1.4 trillion. In other words, the potential debt defaults could be even larger than the $700 billion U.S. bail-out programme during the 2008 crisis.

Be warned. Any and every attempt at shoring up the defences of the capitalist system will involve an unimaginable, intolerable assault on the lives of billions of people. Almost a million young people are on the dole in Britain already, according to today’s figures.

Saturday’s global occupation of city and town squares should become the focus for shaping a new social, economic and democratic political system founded upon the satisfaction of human needs. The 1% cannot be allowed to continue their rule over the 99%.

Gerry Gold
Economics editor
12 October 2011

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