Debt

Argentina's 2001 crisis: The lessons for Greece

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The debt crisis that is tearing Greece apart has echoes in Argentina at the beginning of this century. Heike Schaumberg draws out lessons from the workers' response to neoliberal strangulation.

The similarity of the debt problem, the revolts, social movements, and pending default have all tempted comparisons between Greece today and Argentina’s crisis and popular uprising at the turn of this century. In December 2001 media and activist attention centred on Argentina like it does on Greece today for more or less the same reasons.

UK economy: smoke and mirrors

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Conflicting figures and competing forecasts for Britain make confusing reading for anyone trying to make sense of what is going on in the economy.

In early autumn 2013 chancellor George Osborne was trumpeting economic recovery, but between October and November 2013 there was a sudden slump of output in construction, and manufacturing flatlined.

By January the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was making optimistic predictions about the British economy, and the coalition is crowing over the rise in employment.

The real bank robbers

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Bankers have become among the most hated section of the population, but mainly because of the huge rewards they continue to give themselves despite the massive financial crisis they caused. Mike Haynes looks at why we should loathe their other thieving activities - those on the high street.

Twice last summer robbers made off with the cash boxes containing a few tens of thousands each from local banks. But who were the bigger thieves - the robbers or the branches of the banks whose cash was stolen? I have no romantic illusions about people who rob banks. But thinking about how the banks themselves have robbed us at a branch level is an interesting exercise.

When dodgy dealing and debt shook the global financial system in 2008 most attention was focused on what is called investment banking. Investment banks have two jobs.

Eurozone on the brink of collapse?

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The global economy is entering "a dangerous new phase", said the International Monetary Fund before its annual meeting last month. The same can be said for the European Union (EU) and the eurozone.

At the centre of all the press talk of a capitalist crisis (and this is the phrase increasingly used by papers such as the Financial Times) lies a crisis of the eurozone - the EU economy is bigger than that of the US.

Austerity USA

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Last month Obama and the Republicans agreed a last minute compromise on the US national debt ceiling.

To explain why this happened, it's useful to begin by looking the peculiarities of the US political system. The US does not have a parliamentary system where the parliament elects the government. Instead, a president is elected every four years. There are elections every two years for Congress - the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Greece and Ireland: A Tale of Two Crises

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Across Europe austerity is being imposed - but it is often met with resistance. Nikos Loudos draws lessons from the explosive struggles of Greek workers, while Marnie Holborow exposes the desperation of Ireland's ruling class, whose neoliberal economy has become Europe's weak link.


GREECE: CRUCIBLE OF RESISTANCE


Greek workers show the way

Stoking the bonfire of illusions

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In August 2008 Russia went to war with its neighbour, Georgia. One month later Lehman Brothers bank went bust, plunging capitalism into crisis. In reviewing Alex Callinicos's new book, Jane Hardy explores how these apparently unrelated events signalled epochal changes in the global economy

Two recent events, unequal in magnitude, represent epochal changes to the global economy. The first was the brief war between Georgia and Russia in early August 2008. This was followed by the second: the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September of the same year, which precipitated the biggest financial crash since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Haiti's burden of debt

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Haiti's debt by numbers

•$35 billion Approximate equivalent in today's currency of Haiti's bill to France for its "lost" colony

•$750 million Haiti's debt in 1986, when the US-backed Duvaliers fell

•$900 million The Duvalier fortune that remains frozen in a Swiss bank

•$321 million The cost of servicing Haiti's debt between 1995 and 2001

•$11 million The amount by which interest on debt exceeded foreign aid to Haiti in a single year (2003)

•$1.9 billion Haiti's debt when the US gave $1.2 billion in relief (June 2009)

How will the economic crisis affect people's lives?

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The collapse of the subprime mortgage market last year which spread to the global banking system is now biting into the real economy and employment, writes Kevin Devine.

Heaven knows it's hard to be upset about merchant bankers losing their jobs, but the so-called "credit crunch" has now turned into a much more serious crisis of the banking system as a whole. Given the banks' centrality to capitalism's market economy, a serious recession is now very much on the cards. Massive exposure to the tottering pyramid of debt associated with the "subprime" mortgage market and other scams means that the banks have pretty much stopped lending to each other and other businesses.

Money for the banks...

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My first thought when the government bailed out Northern Rock last year was, where the hell does it find this kind of money when there's never a spare million for a new school or hospital?

That was nothing. Last month has brought new surprises at the amount of wealth in the system and how prepared governments are to use it to bail out the rich and powerful.

The whole scale of it takes your breath away. Banks lent money they didn't have to people who couldn't pay it back and then packaged these debts as prettily as they could and sold them on in such a way that no one really knew where they were. When this game of pass the parcel stopped, everyone panicked and refused to lend to one another.

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