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ECONOMY: World Getting Into A Recession Again

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By Devinder Sharma *

Finally the cheering news. Swaminathan Aiyar, the cheerleader for economic reforms, which in reality is an euphemism for privatisation, has admitted that the world is sliding into a new recession (see Bad news: World sliding into a new recession TOI http://bit.ly/MsjrsH). He calls it bad news. I can understand why he says so. Not satisfied with $ 20 trillion that were pumped in after the 2008 economic meltdown (it was actually an economic collapse, and not meltdown. But to keep the predatory economic system alive, it was called meltdown), in the days to come you will see the demand for a still bigger bailout package will become louder and louder. As someone said, it tantamount to "privatising the profits, and socialising the costs." To ensure private profits do not dip, we will be forced to pump in huge amounts of public money.

In my understanding, there can be nothing more cheering than the news that world is sliding into a new recession. At a time when global warming is taking the world closer to the tripping point; when the oceans and air have been tremendously polluted, the groundwater ruthlessly mined and contaminated, and the natural land resources exploited to the hilt, the news of an impending economic recession couldn't have come at an more appropriate time. If in the last 60 years or so global poverty has only increased, hunger and malnutrition has grown (including in the US, Canada and EU), disease and squalor has multiplied and above all economic disparities have multiplied with each passing year, what is the use of that economic system.

What started off as the Eurozone crisis (which we all know has its roots in the US economy) is now likely to spread far and wide. At the Rio+20 UNCSD conference held at Rio, what amazed me was that poverty eradication should still be the world's top most economic priority. At G-20 summit, held a few days earlier in Mexico, the leaders of the world's top 20 economies however did not focus on poverty, but on economic growth (and on how to bailout the four PIGS countries reeling under a tremendous recession). If only these leaders had ensured that the $ 20 trillion economic bailout package given primarily to erring banks in 2008-09 was instead used to fight poverty and hunger, I can bet poverty and hunger would have been history by now. Of the $ 20 trillion, at least $ 10 trillion could have been spared to create additional employment.

Whether we like it or not, world's entire economic thinking and approach is being determined by the Corporates. All governments, whether democratic or dictatorial, are simply pawns in the invisible (and sometimes visible) hands of the Corporates. Academic institutes and the mainline media have also been bought over by the Corporates. Together -- the executive, academics and the media -- have unleashed a propaganda in favour of policies that only add to the profits of the Corporates. Speculation, financial misappropriation, monopoly control, free trade, future trading in food and natural resources are some of the ways to worsen the global plight. While the poor continue to suffer as a result, the rich go on expanding their wealth in a geometric proportion. Consolidation of wealth in the hands of a few helps increase GDP, and it is shown as if the per capita income of the every national is going up. In India, where 77 per cent population is unable to spend more than 0.50 dollar a day, the per capita income is on a steady rise !

Such a flawed economic system must go. I know it is easier said than done, but history does create conditions making it suitable for a change. I think that stage is fast approaching. If we fail this time, we fail for ever. But if we make a concerted effort -- bringing together all global movements, be it Occupy Movement, Anti-corruption wave, farmers movements and the people's struggle the world over against the usurping of natural resources -- I think we can make a dent. The public discourse must shift to the inability of the present economic system to sustain the world. After all, how long can the poor go on bailing out the rich? How long can we go on tolerating the theft and robbery of our natural resources in the name of development? How long can we live in hunger and poverty to ensure that a handful of people world over live in perpetual luxury? It is time we, the people decide.

* Devinder Sharma is a food and agriculture policy analyst. His writings focus on the links between biotechnology, intellectual property rights, food trade and poverty. His blog is Ground Reality http://devinder-sharma.blogspot.in

Image:  Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar | Credit: Cato Institute

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