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The Vicious Circle of Debt and Depression: It Is a Class War

By       Message Ismael Hossein-zadeh       (Page 3 of 10 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page.     Permalink    (# of views)   5 comments

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As noted earlier, onerous austerity measures to force the public to pay the largely fraudulent external debt is not new. Benignly calling such oppressive measures "Structural Adjustment Programs," the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have for decades imposed them on many less developed countries to collect debt on behalf of international financial titans.

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To "help" the indebted nations craft debt-servicing arrangements with external creditors, the IMF imposed severe conditions on the way they managed their economies--just as it is now imposing (in collaboration with the European and American bankers) those austerity policies on the debtor nations in Europe. The primary purpose of such restrictive conditions is to divert or transfer national resources from domestic use to external creditors. These include not only belt-tightening measures to cut social spending and/or raise taxes, but also selling-off public enterprises, national industries, and future tax revenues.

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Calling such fire-sale privatization deals "briberization," the ex-World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz revealed (in an interview with the renowned investigative reporter Greg Palast) how finance ministers and other bureaucratic authorities in the debtor countries often carried out the Bank's demand to sell off their electricity, water, transportation and communication companies in return for some apparently irresistible sweetener. "You could see their eyes widen" at the prospect of 10% commissions paid to Swiss bank accounts for simply shaving a few billions off the sale price of national assets [2].

The IMF/World Bank/WTO "structural adjustment programs" also include neoliberal policies of "capital-market liberalization." In theory, capital market deregulation is supposed to lead to the inflow and investment of foreign capital, thereby bringing about industrialization, job creation and economic expansion. In practice, however, financial liberalization often leads to more capital outflow (or capital flight) than inflow. To the extent that there is an inflow of capital it is not so much productive or industrial capital as it is unproductive or speculative capital (also known as "hot money"): massive amounts of capital that is constantly in transit across international borders in pursuit of real estate, currency, or interest rate speculation.

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Ismael Hossein-zadeh is a professor of economics at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. He is the author of the newly published book, The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism His Web page is http://www.cbpa.drake.edu/hossein-zadeh

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