sábado, 25 de abril de 2009

25 de Abril, Grândola, Vila Morena

Por um novo Abril! O povo unido jamais será vencido!

sexta-feira, 24 de abril de 2009

25 de Abril Sempre




Foreign Capital Flees the US; Outflow Hits Record $148.9 Billion as China Reloads

By Min Zeng *

Wall Street Journal
March 17, 2009

Foreigners withdrew funds from U.S. assets in record amounts in January, but China continued to add to its stockpile of U.S. government debt.

Already the largest foreign creditor to the U.S. government, China raised its Treasury holdings another $12.2 billion in January, taking its total holdings to $739.6 billion, according to the latest data from the Treasury Department released Monday. China held $492 billion in Treasurys in January 2008. Foreigners sold a net $60.9 billion in long-dated U.S. securities in January, after buying $24.3 billion in December. Including changes in banks' dollar holdings, short-term securities and nonmarket transactions, net foreign capital outflows totaled a record $148.9 billion in January, compared with $86.2 billion in inflows in the previous month.

Michael Woolfolk, senior currency strategist at the Bank of New York Mellon Corp., said the big outflows are a concern and could represent a trend away from the flight to quality that has boosted purchases in U.S. assets in recent months. "This was a truly awful report, throwing into question the funding of the U.S. current-account deficit," he said in a statement.

China's pace of buying has slowed in recent months. In October, at the peak of the credit crisis, China added $65.9 billion to its Treasury holdings, while in December, its holdings increased $14.2 billion. Weakening economic growth in China, mainly due to a plunge in exports, is reducing the amount of foreign reserves it has to recycle into dollar-denominated assets. "We have already seen the peak in terms of the pace of accumulation," said Kathy Lien, director of currency research at Global Forex Trading in New York. "But I don't think China will turn into a net seller anytime within the next six to eight months."

Dumping Treasurys would hurt both the U.S. and China. Were China to sell a substantial amount of Treasurys, bond yields would jump, while Treasury prices and the value of the U.S. dollar would plunge. Last week, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao expressed concern about the safety of U.S. government debt, but he didn't signal any moves by China to unload Treasury holdings. Ms. Lien said Mr. Wen's comments on Friday signal that China is "flexing its political muscle" ahead of the release of the Treasury's semiannual currency report next month.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, in his congressional confirmation hearings this year, caused a stir when he said China is manipulating its currency, the yuan.

About the Author: Tom Barkley also contributed to this article.

quinta-feira, 23 de abril de 2009

A 10-point program for radical reform

A 10-point program for radical reform

No more bailouts for bankers & speculators. Open the books
Nationalize the banking and insurance industries, under the control of workers! • Make public the results of worker audits of allegedly bankrupt and failing companies. • Send corporate crooks to jail, including predatory lenders.




Redirect war spending into social services
Redirect the Pentagon's $500-plus billion budget into retraining soldiers and workers for peacetime production, and to providing for the public welfare. • Bring the troops home and close overseas military bases. • U.S. troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan now. • End U.S. military aid to Israel, Colombia, and other countries whose governments violate human rights.

Tax the rich & make corporations pay
Replace unfair, regressive taxes (such as sales taxes) with a steeply graduated tax on income and profits, putting the heaviest burden on the rich. • Tax all corporate and investment income, including capital gains and dividends. • Close tax loopholes and eliminate taxpayer subsidies for big business.

Guarantee the right to organize
Eliminate all bars to union organizing and the right to strike, regardless of immigrant status and type of employer (private or public). • Cancel anti-labor, racist and environment raping free trade agreements, including NAFTA and CAFTA.




Protect homes & create jobs
Put a moratorium on all home foreclosures. • Fund a mass public works program to create public-sector jobs at union-scale wages. • Provide training and apprenticeship programs for low-skilled workers, especially teens and young adults.

Provide universal employment & retirement security
Reduce the standard work-week to thirty hours with no cut in pay to instantly create more jobs. • Guarantee an annual minimum income for people who are unable to work. • Raise the minimum wage to union scale, with automatic COLA raises. • Raise Social Security benefits to cover actual living costs. • Create a federal, worker-controlled pension system to supplement Social Security. • Ban contracting-out of public services to the private sector.

Make quality healthcare & housing available for all
Provide low-cost, quality medical care for all by nationalizing the healthcare industry, including pharmaceuticals, medical supply companies and hospitals, with control by healthcare workers in collaboration with users/patients. • Dramatically expand public housing and rent control to provide shelter for those in need.




Mandate an environmentally sustainable energy policy
Nationalize the energy industry, including oil and coal, under the control of energy-industry workers, and create jobs in the environmental sector. • Redirect auto bailout funds to re-open closed auto factories, under the control of auto workers and retooled to manufacture mass transit, including buses, subways, light rail and trains. • Redirect subsidies to agribusiness and the biofuels industry into building an integrated mass public transit system with service to rural and underserved urban areas. • Increase the use of public transit by making it free.

Improve women's & children's lives
Mandate employer-funded childcare. • Provide government-funded family-planning services, including abortion. • Ensure equal pay for equal work. • Restore Aid to Families with Dependent Children and social services for the elderly, disabled, sick and mentally ill. • Fund free, universal, public education through college.

Uphold civil liberties
Dismantle for-profit detention centers and prisons as well as the Department of Homeland Security. • Drastically reduce the prison population by ending racial profiling and the phony war on drugs. • Redirect funds into drug rehabilitation, job training, and after-school and summer programs for youth. • End the ICE raids and Border Patrol checkpoints.

quarta-feira, 22 de abril de 2009

Workers' resistance in Africa

Workers' resistance in Africa

"Plunder, domination and the conversion of able-bodied men and women into desperate laborers have characterized Africa's contact with Western and American civilization," writes Azwell Banda in the Foreword to Class Struggle and Resistance in Africa.

At the same time, of course, resistance to this domination is a central part of any examination of Africa. That is the central theme of Class Struggle and Resistance in Africa, edited by Leo Zeilig and recently republished by Haymarket Books--a collection of essays by and interviews with leading activists and socialists that offers important insights into class battles across the continent.

Here, we reprint an excerpt from the Introduction to the 2009 edition, "Resisting the Scramble for Africa," by Leo Zeilig and David Seddon.

Class Struggle and Resistance in Africa

LIKE EVERY other proletariat in the world, and in history, the African working class is characterized by and brings together heterogeneous groups. It has never been a "monolithic subject." But these debates can only be fully understood in the context of popular struggles and the actual moments of protest and resistance. This sees class as a relationship brought to life by the real course of events.

As E.P. Thompson wrote, "like any other relationship, it is a fluency which evades analysis if we attempt to stop it dead at any given moment and anatomize its structure...the relationship must always be embodied in real people and in a real context." This collection seeks to look at this relationship in concrete struggles that have taken place on the continent. Now we need to briefly consider the recent class struggle as manifested in protest--in strikes, marches, demonstrations and riots--since this book was first published.

Two examples from 2007 substantially dismantle the myths of a poor multitude dislodging the working class. The wave of strikes in South Africa, including the June public-sector strike in 2008, has seen the increase of strike days from 500,000 in 2003, to 2.9 million in 2006. The public-sector strike was arguably the largest in South Africa's history, with 11 million strike days in June.

But workers' struggles have been matched by the struggles among other groups of the poor. Service-delivery demonstrations and riots have skyrocketed to over 20,000 in 2005-2007 from fewer than 6,000 in 2004. In this sense, there has been a real convergence of protests that have included traditional working class and the wider poor. The strike in June 2007 was characterized by mass meetings, demonstrations and strike solidarity committees. It also blew a hole into the traditional loyalty binding the ruling ANC to trade unionists. Claire Ceruti describes a meeting of strikers during the June strike:

When a speaker on the platform shouted, "Viva ANC!" I listened as usual for the loudness of the reply to judge the popularity of the ANC. I heard something I had never heard before--dead silence, followed by a sprinkling of insulting phrases. Soweto activist Trevor Ngwane commented, "You could hear the audience thinking in that silence, 'Do we still support the ANC?'" Throughout the strike one striker after another repeated the refrain, "We put them where they are and look how they treat us." The implication, still only half grasped, is that power lies below--a lesson that has been disguised by years of policy battles.

It is not only in South Africa that we can find evidence of rising working-class action and popular protest. In the words of President Umaru Yar'Adua, a four-day general strike in Nigeria also in June 2007 "wreaked havoc on the economy and our people." The strike succeeded in closing down government departments, petrol stations and stores. Export of the country's largest commodity--oil--was paralyzed in all but one terminal. Demands included the reversal of the N10 (Naira) increase in petrol prices, a 15 percent pay raise for public-sector workers and a review of the privatization of oil refineries and state power plants. But still the strike was called off four days after its start, without the full demands being met.

However, Femi Aborisade, who is interviewed in this collection, is right to argue that "Regardless of the weaknesses of the strike, the working class has shown that based on a united force of organizations of the poor, it is a force to reckon with." Huge riots and protests, often simplistically (but not entirely misleadingly) called "bread riots," have punctuated the first decade of the new century in the Third World.

In April 2008, recent price rises were labeled "mass murder" by Jean Ziegler, UN special rapporteur on the right to food. Linked to oil price increases and speculation in the aftermath of the sub-prime crisis, price rises of basic foods have been astronomical--the UN Food and Agriculture Organization has shown that the food import bill for poorest countries is probably going to increase to $169 billion in 2008, with prices unlikely to return to previous levels.

By early April 2008, the effects were clear; protests had broken out across Africa including in the Ivory Coast, Guinea, Senegal, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique and Burkina Faso. In Burkina Faso, a three-day general strike took place in April against the rise in food prices with trade unions demanding a 25 percent wage increase for all public-sector workers. Ziegler explained that one day the starving poor could stand up against their oppressors: "It's just as possible as the French Revolution was." He is right except for one crucial point: they are already are--every day and in most cities, towns and villages across the continent.

(This is an excerpt of the full article that you can find by clicking on the title)

Principle of Action: IMF implements major lending policy improvements

http://www.imf.org/external/np/pdr/fac/2009/032409.htm

IMF implements major lending policy improvements


March 24, 2009

In response to the deepening global economic difficulties, the IMF is implementing a series of reforms that will strengthen its lending framework. These measures reflect consultations with Fund members and stakeholders, and will enable the Fund to respond more effectively to the evolving challenges of crisis-affected countries.

Emerging market and developing countries are facing increasing strains from the global economic downturn. As the crisis is becoming more prolonged, many of these countries are finding that their room for policy maneuver is becoming more constrained. In these circumstances, timely IMF financing—if provided in an appropriate amount and form—can cushion the economic and social costs of external shocks. In some cases Fund assistance could help prevent crises altogether.

Against this background, the IMF Board has approved a major overhaul to the Fund’s lending framework by:

• modernizing IMF conditionality,

• introducing a new flexible credit line,

• enhancing the flexibility of the Fund’s regular stand-by lending arrangement,

• doubling access limits,

• adapting and simplifying cost and maturity structures for its lending, and

• eliminating facilities that were seldom used.

In addition, the IMF is seeking to sharply increase both its nonconcessional and concessional lending resources, which would enable it to meet expanded financing requirements in the crisis. Reforms of concessional lending instruments for low-income members are also in train.

Modernizing conditionality. The IMF aims to ensure that conditions linked to IMF loan disbursements are focused and adequately tailored to the varying strengths of countries’ policies and fundamentals. In the past, IMF loans often had too many conditions that were insufficiently focused on core objectives.

This modernization is to be achieved in two key ways. First the IMF will rely more on pre-set qualification criteria (ex-ante conditionality) where appropriate rather than on traditional (ex post) conditionality as the basis for providing countries access to Fund resources. This principle is embodied in a new Flexible Credit Line. Second, implementation of structural policies in IMF-supported programs will from now on be monitored in the context of program reviews, rather than through the use of structural performance criteria, which will be discontinued in all Fund arrangements, including those with low-income countries. While structural reforms will continue to be integral to Fund-supported programs where needed, their monitoring will be done in a way that reduces stigma, as countries will no longer need formal waivers if they fail to meet a structural reform by a particular date.

Flexible Credit Line (FCL). The IMF is introducing a new credit line for countries with very strong fundamentals, policies, and track records of policy implementation. Access to the FCL credit line will be particularly useful for crisis prevention purposes. FCL arrangements would be approved for countries meeting pre-set qualification criteria. Access under the FCL would be determined on a case-by-case basis. Disbursements under the FCL would not be phased or conditioned to policy understandings as is the case under a traditional Fund-supported program. This flexible access is justified by the very strong track records of countries that qualify for the FCL, which give confidence that their economic policies will remain strong.

The terms of the FCL represent a strengthening of the earlier Short-Term Liquidity Facility (SLF), which therefore will be discontinued. While the SLF was also designed to cater only to very strong-performing members, several of its design features—including its capped access and short repayment period, as well as the inability to use it on a precautionary basis—limited its usefulness to potential borrowers. The concept of a credit line available for either crisis prevention or resolution and dedicated for only very strong-performing countries, with all its flexible features is new.

The FCL’s flexibility includes:

• Assuring qualified countries of large and upfront access to Fund resources with no ongoing (ex post) conditions;

• Renewable credit line, which at the country’s discretion could initially be for either a six-month period, or a 12-month period with a review of eligibility after six months;

• Longer repayment period (3¼ to 5 years versus maximum rollover period of 9 months in the SLF);

• No hard cap on access to Fund resources, which will be assessed on a case-by-case basis (the SLF had a cap on access of 500 percent of quota); and

• Flexibility to draw at any time on the credit line or to treat it as a precautionary instrument (which was not allowed under the SLF).

terça-feira, 21 de abril de 2009

War, geopolitics & human rights

War, geopolitics & human rightslogo RUBRIQUE 43

Bilateral free trade and investment agreements are not only economic instruments. They are tools to advance corporate and state geopolitical and “security” interests. Pro-free market journalist Thomas Friedman wrote: “The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist — McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the builder of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies is called the United States Army, AirForce and Marine Corps.”

Neoliberal globalization and war are two sides of the same coin. Throughout many parts of the world there has been little “hidden” about the links between corporate interests, globalization, and militarization. Under the guise of the war on terror, the war on drugs and “humanitarian” missions, U.S. military forces continue to back U.S. corporate and geopolitical interests from Iraq to Colombia, from Honduras to the Philippines. We can see it in the war on Iraq and how the US Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded “reconstruction” contracts to corporate backers of the Bush Administration. We see it in plans for a U.S. free trade agreement with the Middle East by 2013, based on imposing a network of bilateral FTAs on individual Middle Eastern governments. We can see it in the renewed U.S. military presence in South East Asia, especially in their joint exercises with the Philippine military alongside a continued wave of killings of hundreds of activists linked to movements resisting imperialism. Their mission is to make the world safe for capitalism and the U.S. empire and to crush communities and economies organized around different values and principles. Free trade and free market policies are frequently accompanied by repression of dissent.

Meanwhile human rights is invoked cynically by governments to stave off criticism of FTA negotiations with countries whose human rights record is widely denounced as appalling. Canada, for example, claims that its controversial FTA with Colombia will help strengthen its social foundations “and contribute to a domestic environment where individual rights and the rule of law are respected”. Opponents argue that this deal will benefit Canadian mining and agribusiness TNCs, at the expense of the majority of Colombians who live with daily killings of trade unionists and other activists by paramilitaries linked to the state, while adding legitimacy to the pro-US, neoliberal Uribe regime (see Canada-Colombia section).

While US economic, trade and foreign policy invokes the “war on drugs” in relation to Central America and the Andean countries, Washington has "rewarded" its allies in the "war on terror" (e.g. Australia and Thailand) by negotiating FTAs with them while trumpeting its FTA with Morocco as proof of its support for “tolerant and open” Muslim societies. And it has demanded that the governments of Gulf countries scrap their boycotts of Israeli goods as part of FTA negotiations. Other governments also explicitly link their international trade and economic policy with security and geopolitical interests. For example, the EU-Syria agreement has a special provision committing Damascus to the pursuit of a “verifiable Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear, biological and chemical, and their delivery systems”.

Besides the obvious ways in which US geopolitical concerns are embedded in Washington’s pursuit of bilateral trade and investment deals, other countries are also pursuing bilateral free trade and investment agreements to further geopolitical goals. Increasingly, we can see access to energy resources (eg. oil, gas, uranium, agrofuels and water) as a factor in determining the priorities of signing bilateral FTAs for countries such as China and Japan (see Energy & environment).

last update: April 2009

American Empire Foreclosed?

Reconsidering U.S. Power in a Time of Economics Crisis

American Empire Foreclosed?

By MARK ENGLER

Dangling the Dollar

President Obama may be able to reverse some of the diplomatic damage of the Bush years, but his administration faces problems of its own. Global force projection requires not only a huge amount of political capital; at a most fundamental level it demands financial treasure. Thus, degrees of overstretch must also be gauged relative to economic health—something which is now in short supply. Many would think that America, in the throes of financial crisis, would be destined for imperial bankruptcy.

The United States, accustomed over the past 15 years to running a large current account deficit, has clearly been living beyond its means. While its bubble economy was expanding, the government relied on foreign investors to pay for its excessive military spending. And on the consumer level, families went into credit card debt and borrowed against the value of their homes to keep consuming.

It was an unsustainable state of affairs, and most nations would never have been allowed to maintain it. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) would have railed against wanton economic mismanagement and warned creditors not to invest in that country unless the government promised sweeping reforms. Even without the institution’s influence, textbook economics holds that, on seeing such signs of economic weakness, investors would shy away from the country, its currency would fall, consumers would no longer be able to afford as many foreign goods, and the economy would undergo a necessary, if painful, “correction.” Financial hardship and declining standards of living would logically prompt a country to scale back pricey involvements abroad.

Now that crisis has struck, it would seem that we are overdue for a tough reckoning with imperial costs. However, the state of the markets is not the only factor in play. Like in the political sphere, the ability of the United States to survive economically as a hegemon depends in large part on whether others decide to support, tolerate, or resist the present order.

What makes the United States different than other countries? As the world’s political superpower and largest economy, America’s dollars serve as the reserve currency for the rest of the world. Foreign countries keep their money in dollars because they believe they are more dependable than any alternative. As long as other nations are willing to keep pouring money into the dollar, the United States can finance ever-larger deficits.

Ironically, one effect of the crisis thus far has been to sustain high demand for the dollar. The logic is simple. In a chaotic economy, many investors consider U.S. Treasury bonds the only safe place to hold their money—even if interest rates are low. But this won’t last forever. Already noises of discontent have come from major investors. As world leaders were gathering in London for the recent G20 summit, Zhou Xiaochuan, the governor of China’s central bank, called for a new “super-sovereign reserve currency,” which would displace the dollar.

Progressive economists such as Paul Krugman and Dean Baker have debated the significance of China’s latest posturing, and it is doubtful that an immediate abandoning of the dollar is in the offing. But when other countries do decide to change economic strategies and turn to a new reserve currency, it could be a tipping point for America’s imperial designs. Washington need only consult London about the gravity of this problem. As many historians have observed, the unraveling of the British Empire came hard on the heels of the shift away from pounds sterling as the global currency of choice.

(This is an excerpt of the full article that you can find by clicking on the title)

segunda-feira, 20 de abril de 2009

Rules liberalizing financial services, an obstacle to anti-crisis efforts

Rules liberalizing financial services, an obstacle to anti-crisis efforts (March 2009)

In the last few months, more analysts have come to agree on the undoubtedly global reach of the financial crisis, and estimate it rivals the seriousness of the 1930s Great Depression. This article reviews a growing number of reports that are documenting the threat that financial services liberalization provisions in a number of treaties pose to the ability of countries to either counteract the crisis or even take the most minimal protecting measures to mitigate its effects.

By: Aldo Caliari
Last year, at a time that the global financial crisis seemed to be still relatively contained, a large number of civil society organizations warned that "The proliferation of provisions that constrain the capacity of governments to manage the financial sector, the capital account and sovereign debt in a number of trade and investment agreements runs contrary to the interests of developing countries." The basis for this warning were that such constraints were not consistent with the flexibility needed to successfully implement pro-development fiscal, monetary and banking policies, such as employment- or exchange rate-targeting, where governments may deem them necessary. They also noted that painful financial crises were the product of exactly the type of policies that such provisions crystallized in legal rules and commitments. (See Benchmark Document, dated June 2008)

In the last few months, more analysts have come to agree on the undoubtedly global reach of the crisis, and estimate the crisis rivals the seriousness of the 1930s Great Depression. At the same time, a growing number of reports is documenting the threat that financial services liberalization provisions in a number of treaties pose to the ability of countries to either counteract the crisis or even take the most minimal protecting measures to mitigate its effects.

This evidence is all the more worrisome given the continued insistence by several high level officials of G20 countries in characterizing the trade elements on their agenda at the upcoming London Summit as one of generally "stopping protectionism" and "reviving the Doha Round at the WTO." Whenever these two items are mentioned, they often include-sometimes quite explicitly- a holding and continuation of financial services liberalization.

The issues raised by restrictions on capital controls are developed by Sarah Anderson, of the Institute of Policy Studies, in a study called "Policy Handcuffs in the Financial Crisis: How U.S. Trade and Investment Policies Limit Government Power to Control Capital Flows." [1]

The study quotes economist Joseph Stiglitz to argue that "the single most important factor leading to the troubles that several of the East Asian countries encountered in the late l990s-the East Asian crisis-was the rapid liberalization of financial and capital markets." Mr. Stiglitz is hardly alone on this, as demonstrated by a list of recognized economists quoted in the study that includes John Maynard Keynes, Robert Rubin and Jagdish Bhagwati among others.

Yet, the US government has, if anything, deepened its support for restrictions to capital controls being made binding in all trade and investment agreements it has signed since the East Asian crisis. The current global economic crisis has brought to the fore in a more dramatic way the damaging consequences for countries of signing away their ability to establish capital controls. Some countries have needed to maintain capital controls (e.g., China and Thailand), while others have needed to impose or tighten them (e.g., Iceland, Ukraine, and Argentina). In several countries, the crisis was expressed in severe episodes of capital flight and currency devaluations. Countries that do not have the option of using capital controls are left with few other tools they can use to respond to such outflows. They may be forced to take the weakening step of spending, sometimes in a matter of days, precious foreign exchange reserves built over years of hard economic sacrifice.

But capital controls are not the only tool necessary to mitigate impacts of the crisis that that governments may lose as they sign free trade deals. "Taking the Credit: How Financial Services Liberalization Fails the Poor"[2], a study by the World Development Movement, argues that foreign banks' entry and enhanced access in the financial markets of developing countries and the progressive elimination of controls on their activity vis a vis domestic providers has led to 1) Active selection or 'cherry-picking' of high value customers, 2) Benefits for high-value customers, but a
decline in the ability of the wider financial sector to reach low-value customers, 3) Less credit available to the local private sector (as opposed to public sector or large firms) 4) Less credit for productive activities; credit for personal consumption increases 5) Distorted behaviour by local banks because of increased competitive pressure and 6) Overall loss of access to affordable and sustainable financial services for key groups and thus a decline in national welfare.

More importantly, WDM argues that the ongoing global recession will aggravate the threat of financial exclusion, but that this will get broader and deeper if proposed trade deals between the EU and various developing economies are left unchallenged.

In the face of the report's survey of lobbying interests that influence those trade negotiations, the shape of such and the negative distributional impacts that the treaties will carry are hard to attribute to mere inadvertence. There are many organisations which seek to influence international trade negotiations on behalf of the banking industry and it is clear that the European Union's "Global Europe" strategy has been actively developed with, and supported by, a range of lobbyists working on behalf of the finance sector: the European Services Forum, British Bankers' Association, European Banking Federation, International Financial Services Federation, all in addition to the lobbying directly undertaken by some banks.

A more detailed look into one ongoing negotiation that includes financial services, the EU-India FTA, can be found in "EU-India Free Trade Agreement, should India open up banking sector?", a report published by Madhyam and written by Kavaljit Singh.[3]

The report states that the crisis, far from stopping European banks from entering the Indian market, is increasing their aggressiveness. "As a counter weight to ailing domestic markets, the big EU-based banks would like to get out of recession by exploring newer markets, where the engines of economic growth are located.... At present, there are very few growth spots in the world and India is still counted among one of them."

But, is this good for India ? The report offers extensive documentation of the damage done by the entry of foreign banks in India: less bank branches in rural areas, greater financial exclusion, a rise in unbanked and underbanked regions, a sharp decline in agricultural credit, and a decline in bank lending to SMEs. In doing this, the report also compares those results with the results of a previous phase that involved nationalization of banks in India. Such period saw a dramatic expansion of bank branches in rural and unbanked areas, a growth that has no parallel in any developing country, and that directly owed to the licensing incentives provided under that regime. The credit and savings in rural areas also increased dramatically, lowering the traditional dependence that rural populations had on non-institutional moneylenders for the purpose of obtaining credit.

It is worth noting that as the financial turmoil gets worse, the concept of bank nationalization is no longer the taboo that it used to be. Several countries -both developed and developing -- are flirting with the concept of bank nationalization while others were forced to partially implement it. Yet, it is not at all clear that this newly-accepted concept would entail the same type of incentives and management measures that India, according to the report, implemented. Indeed, governments that talk about the likelihood of nationalizing banks often add the caveat that this would be done on a "temporary" basis, and the institutions would be quickly returned to the private sector once they have been "cleaned up" -presumably by a subsidy at the expense of taxpayers.

The multiple provisions in trade agreements that can increase the likelihood of a financial crisis and make it more difficult to take the necessary measures to deal with one once it occurs, are also the subject of a "Preliminary Note on Financial Crisis and Trade and Investment Treaties"[4], presented by Third World Network to the Commission of Experts on Financial and Monetary Reform set up by the President of the General Assembly.

In addition to the restrictions on capital controls, this report expands on how usual provisions in agreements on trade or investment at all levels, may hamper the ability of states to implement bailout packages, stimulus measures and the regulation of financial instruments. In the light of the evidence, it would be hard not to agree with the study's call for "a blanket review of relevant existing FTAs, BITs and WTO provisions to see which provisions of these rules are now inappropriate given the new understanding we now have on financial liberalisation."and a freezing of all current FTA negotiations including economic partnership agreements (EPAs), until a review of their appropriateness in light of the current crisis conditions takes place.

domingo, 19 de abril de 2009

IPCC chief slams tactics of G20 police at demo

The Guardian

IPCC chief slams tactics of G20 police at demo

Senior police officers face serious questions over the "unacceptable" trend of officers disguising their identity during clashes with protesters, the chair of the independent police watchdog warned yesterday, as it began formally investigating a third alleged assault on a G20 protester.

Nick Hardwick, chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), called for a national debate over how police maintain public order and demanded much tougher political accountability, warning that police should remember they were "the servants not the masters" of the people.

He is also seeking the necessary resources for the watchdog to conduct more investigations independently from police - as it is doing over the death of Ian Tomlinson, the news vendor who died after being caught up in the G20 protests - and expanding its remit in cases where there is evidence of wider systematic problems.

The latest investigation concerns a 23-year-old man who claims to have been assaulted by a Metropolitan police officer in the early evening of 1 April at a police cordon on Cornhill in the City of London, adding to two existing investigations into the death of Tomlinson and claims by a woman activist that she was attacked.

Hardwick told the Observer the latest case would "not necessarily" be the last taken up by the IPCC, which is still sifting almost 90 complaints about the use of force and examining CCTV footage.

He made clear his concerns about incidences of officers disguising their identifying numbers, which should always be displayed on the shoulders of their uniforms, arguing that colleagues should have reported such wrongdoing.

"I think that raises serious concerns about the frontline supervision," Hardwick said. "Why was that happening, why did the supervisor not stop them? What does that say about what your state of mind is? You were expecting trouble?

"I think that is unacceptable. It is about being servants, not masters: the police are there as public servants."

He said such infringements were within the IPCC's remit "and we will deal with it".

Hardwick also revealed that the widespread use of mobile phones by protesters to take photographs and video footage of the clashes was providing invaluable evidence.

He suggested that had such footage been available during a violent confrontation between police and Countryside Alliance activists protesting over the hunting ban five years ago the outcome might have been different.

"What's been important with all these pictures is we have got such a wide picture of what happened," he said. "I think that is challenging the police: they have to respond to the fact that they are going to be watched, there is going to be this evidence of what they have done."

Hardwick said that while the IPCC had attempted a number of prosecutions over the Countryside Alliance demonstration these had failed: "We had to go with what the court said but we were very very surprised at some of the verdicts. I don't think this would happen now because there would be all this evidence."

He welcomed an inquiry announced last week by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary into police tactics during the G20 protests but said a broader debate was needed, particularly about the rights of peaceful protesters in marches liable to be disrupted by a small criminal element. "It's got to be a democratic political question about how do we want to be policed? I think that needs a proper parliamentary discussion. The choices we make as a society about that aren't consequence-free. There are tricky balances to be struck."

The IPCC has been widely criticised for its initial handling of the G20 complaints, but Hardwick said its remit was restricted to the conduct of individual officers and some of the criticism reflected misunderstandings of its role.

He is now pushing for extra manpower to conduct more investigations - a third of the IPCC's investigators are working on the G20 cases - and a shake-up of police accountability whether through elected police boards, commissioners or mayors to look at what he said were "perfectly legitimate, proper questions" outside the IPCC's remit.

Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said his party was given a guarantee by senior officers after clashes with climate change protesters at Kingsnorth power station in Kent - where there were also complaints of police disguising their identity - that there would be no repeat of such tactics at the G20 protests.

Some officers now appeared prepared to flout recent orders from senior commanders to display their numbers, Huhne said, with another officer photographed at the protest staged by Tamils in Parliament Square with his numbers disguised. "What we appear to have is repeated cases of police officers ignoring the direct orders of their police supervisors and this is very worrying.

"There's only one motive for a police officer disguising his identity and that's because he thinks he's going to be doing something reprehensible."

Senior Metropolitan police officers held a series of crisis meetings throughout last week and sources said Sir Paul Stephenson, the new commissioner, was determined to get a grip. One Met source said he was ready to "kick some ass" among senior officers. The IPCC has received more than 185 complaints about the G20 protests, of which 44 are not eligible for consideration, including complaints from people who saw footage on TV. Around 90 complaints about use of force included witness accounts as well as those from alleged victims.

Hello WFTO. Goodbye WTO

Hello WFTO. Goodbye WTO
07 February 2009


Descartar a OMC (Organização Mundial do Comércio, também WTO - World Trade Organization); Adoptar a OMCJ (Organização Mundial do Comércio Justo, também WFTO- World Fair Trade Organization)

A OMCJ ( ou WFTO) nasceu a 15 de Outubro de 2008 no seio da Associação Internacional do Comércio Justo como resposta a grandes problemas surgidos nestes últimos tempos:

- o falhanço das entidades globais em responder ao impacto da desigualdade no comércio;

- o falhanço dos Governos e empresas em impedir as alterações climáticas;

- o falhanço do sistema financeiro.

Em síntese, a falência do sistema de mercado corrente decretou a necessidade de criar uma solução sustentável.

Esta organização, tendo em conta os acontecimentos derivados da falência/decadência do sistema financeiro vigente, criou princípios a adoptar para a verificação de um desenvolvimento sustentável.

A OMCJ representa 110 milhões de comerciantes e 2 mil milhões de dólares em vendas em todo o mundo. Apresenta novas ferramentas de mercado no sentido de transformar empresas em entidades de comércio justo e sustentável, tornando ainda os consumidores em investidores no futuro do planeta.

Esta organização é ainda responsável pelo Dia do Comércio Justo, pelo 100% Organizações de Comércio Justo (FT100) e pela Economia Sustentável de Comércio Justo.


-oOo-


The goal of the WFTO is to enable producers to improve their livelihoods and communities through Fair Trade. It does this by delivering market access for its worldwide membership through policy, advocacy, campaigning, marketing and monitoring.

The WFTO represents Fair Traders from grassroots through to the G8 and is the authentic voice of Fair Trade, having driven the movement for 20 years. The WFTO represents both the pioneers and the innovators in Fair Trade and sets high standards of Fair business practice for all.

The World Fair Trade Organization was born out of the International Fair Trade Association on 15 October 2008 as a considered response to the extraordinary issues of our time:

  • the failure of global bodies to impact the imbalance in trade
  • the failure of governments and businesses to tackle climate change
  • the failure of the financial system.

In short, a failure of the current market system to deliver a sustainable solution.

Trade is an essential human activity that enriches lives, and sustainability has to be a market precondition – millions if not billions of lives are at stake. The WFTO 's 10 Principles of Fair Trade illustrate what sustainability looks like in a globalized marketplace.

Without these principles, we will continue to drive injustice in a trading system run by companies and organisations that take advantage of globalization but do little or nothing to manage its consequences. Fair Trade is the appropriate response to the excess and imbalance that currently define this system.

The WFTO represents 110 million Fair Traders and US$2bn in sales worldwide and presents new tools to the market to transform businesses into sustainable Fair Trading entities and consumers into investors in the future of the planet.

The WFTO is the organisation behind World Fair Trade Day, 100% Fair Trade Organizations (FT100) and the Sustainable Fair Trade Economy.