||Do any of your New Years resolutions depend on better economic health?
If so, be ready to shed tears in 2011.
“As I have been saying repeatedly,” insisted Yale University sociologist
Immanuel Wallerstein on January 1, “we are not in a recession but in a
depression.” In these circumstances, “politicians look for quick fixes.
They call for ‘austerity,’ which means cutting pensions and education
and child care even further.”
Wallerstein, former president of the International Sociological
Association, delivered the UKZN Wolpe Lecture fourteen months ago and
will do so again six months from now. He warns, “The governments of
Russia, India, and South Africa are all facing rumbling discontent from
large parts of their populations who seemed to have escaped the benefits
of presumed economic growth.”
He predicted continuing “sharp rises in the prices of energy, food, and
water, and thus a struggle for these basic goods, a struggle that could
Because of Eskom’s repeated 25 percent tariff increases, thousands die
annually from TB spread by dirty energy (hence particulates in the air
that carry respiratory illnesses), from shack fires caused by paraffin
spills, and from electrocutions due to badly-wired illegal electricity
Thousands more perish from shocking levels of malnutrition. And ongoing
epidemics of diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases, some taking HIV+
status to full-blown AIDS, can be blamed on inadequate and expensive
municipal water supplies, again with thousands of (preventable) deaths
anticipated in 2011.
Money worries are also hitting the middle class, even in sites such as
Ireland thought to be amongst the world’s leading capitalist success
stories. Currency volatility will continue, with imbalances in trade and
payments still at all-time highs. The November G20 meeting in Seoul
narrowly avoided a currency war between the US and China, because no one
would support Washington’s saber-rattling rhetoric.
The Obama administration lost credibility after Federal Reserve Board
(‘Fed’) chair Ben Bernanke pushed $600 billion through the banks a few
days earlier. Yet even Goldman Sachs economists opined that $4 trillion
more of this ‘quantitative easing’ would be required to pull the US
economy out of its stagnation.
Other governments are stuck even deeper in the mire. But unlike the US,
which has the power to print dollars, the central bankers of Portugal,
Ireland, Italy, Greece, Spain (the ‘PIIGS’) and even Belgium are trapped
by Eurozone membership: they can’t run the printing press.
From increasingly uncivilized European society, expect more riots as
austerity worsens in these sites, as well as in Britain – with its
revitalized student movement unwilling to accept the extreme
Tory-Liberal tuition hikes – and France due to retirees’ resistance to
Other troubling economic weaknesses are finally being noticed within the
alleged world ‘recovery’. US real estate continues to rot, even though
Bernanke bought over $1 trillion worth of mortgage-backed securities
from banks that would have gone belly-up otherwise. Residential
properties and commercial real estate – especially shopping malls – keep
shrinking in value.
Explained one of the very few outspoken US politicians, Vermont’s
independent socialist Senator Bernie Sanders, “After years of
stonewalling by the Fed, the American people are finally learning the
incredible and jaw-dropping details of the Fed’s multitrillion-dollar
bailout of Wall Street and corporate America.”
A month ago, it was finally revealed that between March 2008 and May
2009, Bernanke not only pumped $3 trillion into the US economy as
emergency liquidity, but also secretly lent $9 trillion to bail out 18
financial institutions deemed ‘too big to fail’. Citigroup, Merrill
Lynch and Morgan Stanley were in such bad shape that they approached
Bernanke for cheap loans on more than 100 occasions. Even Goldman Sachs
went 84 times.
It was not only the US taxpayer and all holders of dollars who lose in
the process. As Sanders continued, ordinary homeowners are victims:
“Banks are foreclosing on untold numbers of families who have never
missed a payment, because rushing to foreclosure generates lucrative
fees for the banks, whatever the costs to families and investors.”
According to leading New York research analyst Meredith Whitney,
municipal and state debt has reached $2 trillion. “Next to housing this
is the single most important issue in the US and certainly the biggest
threat to the US economy. There’s not a doubt on my mind that you will
see a spate of municipal bond defaults. You can see fifty to a hundred
sizeable defaults – more. This will amount to hundreds of billions of
dollars’ worth of defaults.”
It’s not just Detroit, but also great European cities – Madrid,
Florence, Barcelona, Lisbon, Naples, Budapest and Istanbul – which are
now sinking in debt to the level of junk-bond status.
The worsening balance sheets demonstrate the limits not only of creditor
wisdom but also of the mainstream economic theory which endorses
liberalized finance. “A few economists challenged the assumption of
rational behavior, questioned the belief that financial markets can be
trusted and pointed to the long history of financial crises that had
devastating economic consequences,” wrote Nobel Prize laureate Paul
Krugman in his New York Times column. “But they were swimming against
the tide, unable to make much headway against a pervasive and, in
retrospect, foolish complacency.”
University of Texas professor James K. Galbraith had an even harsher
reaction, calling his colleagues’ mindset “a kind of Politburo for
correct economic thinking. As a general rule, as one might generally
expect from a gentleman’s club, this has placed them on the wrong side
of every important policy issue, and not just recently but for decades.”
Galbraith continued, “They oppose the most basic, decent and sensible
reforms, while offering placebos instead. They are always surprised when
something untoward, like a recession, actually occurs. And when finally
they sense that some position cannot be sustained, they do not reexamine
their ideas. They do not consider the possibility of a flaw in logic or
theory. Rather, they simply change the subject.”
These are the people still guiding the US Treasury, International
Monetary Fund, Fed and nearly all other finance ministries and central
banks, including Pretoria's. Until economists are given the same
professional respect accorded to quack AIDS-denialists, and until global
financial volatility is resisted by imposition of strong exchange
controls, the problems caused by neoliberals and bankers will worsen.
Finance minister Pravin Gordhan and SA Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus
are, however, going with mainstream wisdom and policies, so most of us
can expect 2011 to be economically miserable.
Asizilungiseleni ubuhixihixi kwezemnotho nangalonyaka
Yahunyushwa nguFaith ka-Manzi
Ngabe ezinye zezinqumo zakho zoNyaka oMusha zincekene nokuthi iphakethe lakho lihle kangakanani? Umangabe kunjalo lindela ukuchiphiza izinyembezi ngo2011.
“Njengoba kade ngisho ngiphindaphinda,” kugcizelela isifundiswa esinguchwepheshe kwezempilo zemiphakathi (sociologist) yasesikhungweni semfundo ephakeme eYale University uImmanuel Wallerstein mhla zinzinye kulephezulu (January 1,) “asibhekene nokwehla (kwezomnotho) sibhekene nengcindezi.” Kulezizimo, “abezombusazwe baye bafune izisombululo ezisheshayo. Babiza i‘austerity,’ okusho ukuqeda ezempesheni kanye nezemfundo kanye nezimali zokunakekela izingane kakhulu kunakuqala.”
UWallerstein, wayengumongameli weInternational Sociological Association, futhi waba isikhulumi esiqavile kwiUKZN Wolpe Lecture ezinyangeni ezingamashumi nane ezidlule futhi uzophinde akhulume ezinyangeni eziyisithupha ezizayo kusukela manje. Uyexwayisa uthi, “Ohulumeni baseRussia, eIndia, naseNingizimu Afrika bonke babhekene nokuduma kokusokola izingxenye ezinkulu zemiphakathi yabo ezizibona zingazuzanga kulokukukhula kwezomnotho okulokhu kukhulunywa ngakho.”
Waqhubeka ngokuqagula “ukwenyuka kakhulu kwamanani kagesi, ukudla kanye namanzi, ngakho-ke kuzoba nemzabalazo wokutholakala kwalezizinto ezidingeka kakhulu, umzabalazo ongaba nobungozi kakhulu.”
Ngenxa yokuthi uEskom’s ulokhu ephinda ngamashumi amabili nanhlanu ukwenyuka, izinkulungwane ziyafa njalo ngonyaka ngokusabalala kwesifo sofuba iTB ngenxa yokusetshenziswa kwezindlela ezingcolile zokubasa ( ngakho-ke emoyeni kugcwala amagciwane agulisana ngezifo zokuphefumula), kusukela emililweni yasemjondolo edalwa ukuchitheka kukaparrafin, kanye nokubulawa ukushiswa ugesi yizintambo ezisuke zixhunywe kabi ngoba usuke untshontshiwe.
Izinkulungwane futhi eziningi ziyafa zibulawa izinga eliphezulu lendlala. Kanye nezifo ezingapheli njengohudo kanye nezinye izifo ezihambisana namanzi angcolile, abanye abasukek beneHIV bagcine sebenengculaza, konke lokhu singathi ukungenzi ngokuqikelela kukamasipala ngokungaphani ngamanzi anele, njengoba kubhekwe izinkulungwane zabazofa (okungavikeleka) okuzokwenzeka ngo2011.
Izinkinga zokukhathazeka ngemali sekuqala nokwzwela kwahola kangconywana, ngisho nasezindaweni ezifana noIreland ezicatshangwa njengezindawo zamazwe ahamba phambili ekubusweni ngogxiwankulu emhlabeni wonke.Currency votality,kuzoqhubeka, kanye nokungalingani ekudayiseleni nasekukhokhweni kuzoba phezulu kakhulu. Umhlangano weG20 wangoNovemba eSeoul kwala kancane udale impi yezimali phakathi kweChina neMelika, ngenxa yokuthi akekho owayexhasana neWashington’s saber-rattling rhetoric.
Uhulumeni kaObama ulahlekelwe ukwethenjwa emva kokuba usihlalo weFederal Reserve Board uBen Bernanke efake u$600 billion emabhange ezinsukwini ezimbalwa ezedlule. Kodwa ngisho uchwepheshe wezomnotho uGoldman Sachs imali engaphezulu kuka$4 trillion engakhipha izwe laseMelika kulesisimo.
Abanye ohulumeni nabo babhekene kakhulu nalengwadla.Kodwa bona abafani neMelika yona ekwazi ukushicilela amadola, ibhange elikhulu lasePortugal, eIreland, eItaly, eGreece, eSpain ngisho kanye neBelgium babhajwe ukuba ngamalunga aseEurozone: abakwazi ukuzishicilela izimali.
Njengoba imipkalathi yasemazweni aseNyakatho (Europe) engalawuleki, sizazobona izibhelu eziningi njengoba sinzima kangaka lesisimo. Kusukela kulezizindawo, kanye naseNgilandi – njengoba izinhlangano zabafundi eziviva kabusha zingafuni ukwamukela ukwenyuka kwezimali zokufunda - kanye nokwelulwa kweminyaka yabathatha impesheni ukuthi basebenza isikhathi eside eFrance.
Obunye ubuthakathaka bezomnotho obukhathazayo sebuyabonakala njengoba kulokhu kukhulunywa ngokuqalwa phansi. Ezezakhiwo nezezindlu zaseMelika ziyaqhubeka nokuba muncu, ngisho noma uBernanke ethenge ngaphezu kuka$1 trillion wokuqinisekisa abathengi bezindlu emabhange ebekufanele akhombise ukwenza inzuzo. Izindawo ezibizayo zokuhlala kanye nezinxancathele zezitolo – kulokhu kuqhubeka ukwehla kwamanani azo.
Kuchaza omunye abambalwa bezombusazwe okwaziyo ukuphumela obala waseMelika uuNdunankulu uBernie Sanders, “Emva kweminyaka yokuhlangabezana nenqgingetshe neFederal Bank, abantu baseMelika ima sebethola ukusizwa kongxiwankulu kanye neWall Street ngesikhathi esinzima sezomnotho kwenziwa iFederal Bank.”
Enyangeni edlule, kuze kwavezwa ekugcineni ukuthi phakathi kukaMashi 2008 no Meyi 2009, uBernanke akagcinanga-nje ngokufaka u$3 trillion kunomnotho waseMelika njengesimo esphuthumayo, kodwa ngokwangasese waboleka u$9 trillion ukusiza izinkampani ezingamashumi nesishgalombili ‘okwakubonakala ukuthi zizoqumbeka phansi’. ICitigroup, neMerrill Lynch kanye neMorgan Stanley babesesimweni esibucayi ngalendlela yokuthi baya kuBernanke izikhathi ezingaphezu kweziyikhulu beyofuna imali yembolekiso. Ngisho noGoldman Sachs waya izikhathi ezingamashumi ayisishagalombili nane.
Kwakungeyena umkhokhi ntela waseMelika kanye nabanye abanikazi bamadola ababelahlekelwa kuphela. Njengoba uSanders eqhubeka, wathi ngisho nabanikazi bemizi nabo baba yisihlava salenkinga: “Amabhange ayevalela imindeni eyayingakaze ingakhokhi nakanye, ngoba ukujaha ukuvala kwakusho ukwenyuka kwezimali zasemabhange, ngaphandle kokuba nendaba yokuthi kwakwenzekani kubanikazi bemizi kanye nabatshali bezimali.”
Ngokusho kukachwepheshe ohamba phambil kwezokuhlaziya ucwaningo waseNew York uMeredith Whitney, isikweletu sikamasipala kanye nesesizwe sesifike ku$2 trillion. “Eduze-nje nezokwakhiwa, iyonanto ebaluleke kakhulu le eMelika futhi okuyiyona eyingozi kakhulu kumnotho waseMelika. Akukho ukungabaza emqondweni wami ukuthi sizobona ukungakhokhelwa okukhulu kwezikweletu zezakhiwo zikamasipala. Lokhu kuzoholela kumabhiliyoni amadola angezukukhokhwa.”
Akukhona-nje kuphela eDetroit, kodwa nakwamnaye madolobha makhulu aseNyakatho(Europe - o Madrid, Florence, Barcelona, Lisbon, Naples, Budapest kanye neIstanbul – acwile ezikweletini futhi abambise ngamabhondi angenankokhelo.
Ukuzama ukubhalansisa ukuphela kokuhlakanipha kwababolekisayo koodwa komnotho-nje jikelele okukhombisa ukuzimela kwezezimali. “Abahalaziyi bezomnotho abambalwa bayibuza lendaba yokusebenzisa ukuhlakanipha, bayibuza indaba yokuthi ngabe izimakethe zezimali zingathenjwa futhi base beqaphelisa ngomlando omude wobuhixihixi bezezimali okwenza isimo sezomnotho sibe nemiphumela eshube kakhulu,” ngokubhala kwesifundiswa esawina iNobel Prize uPaul Krugman lapho egiya khona kwiphephandaba iNew York Times wathi. “Kodwa babebhukuda befulathelene umfula odla amagalane, bengagwazi ukuphuma amnazini, futhi bengakwaazi ukumelana nalaba ababegoqe izandla.”
USolwazi wasesikhungweni semfundo ephakeme eUniversity of Texasu James K. Galbraith yena wagxeka kanzima, ebiza imiqondo yozakwabo njengabantu ababengafuni ukujula becabangela obala futhi ngendlela ephambene okwenza ukuthi imigomo ebalulekile ibe nemiphumela emibi ayi futhi manje kodwa amashumi eminyaka.”
Eqhubeka uGalbraith wathi, “Babephikisana nemigomo eyayingashintsha isimo esobala futhi elula beletha imigomo engnamiphumela. Futhi bayathuka uma sekwenzeka into ebebengayilindele, njengokwehla kwezomnotho. Futhi uma sebebona ukuthi imigomo yabo ayisebenzi bese bengaqali phansi bahlole izindlela ekade benza ngazo. Abacabangi ukuthi kungenzeka kube khona amaphutha endleleni abacabanga ngayo. Kunalokho bavele baye kokunye.”
Laba njalo abantu abanxusa umnyango wezezimali zaseMelika, iInternational Monetary Fund, iFederal Bank kanye nawowonke amabhange amakhulu, ngisho nasePitoli. Ukuze abahlaziyi bezomnotho banikwe inhlonipho efana nalena eyayinikwa odokotela babephikisana nokuba khona kwengculaza, ukuze ingcindezi yezezimali iphikiswe ngokwenziwa kwemithetho eqinile yokuhanjiswa kwezimali emazweni, izinkinga ezidalwa ababusi bongxiwankulu kanye nabanikazi bamabhange zizolokhu zikhula.
UNgqongqoshe weZezimali uPravin Gordhan kanye nomphathi waseSA Reserve Bank governor uGill Marcus bona , baphambana nehlombe, okusho ukuthi iningi lethu kumele lilindele ukungathokozi ngezomnotho ngo2011.
(UPatrick Bond, isigayigayi sezomnotho nezombusazwe, ungumbhali wezincwadi weLooting Africa kanye ne Elite Transition: From Apartheid to Neoliberalism in South Africa, zombili ezishicilelwe i UKZN Press.)