Friday, November 21, 2014

Escobar on G7's neoliberalism

As one of the world's preeminent journalists, Pepe Escobar has for a long time covered the crazed, destructive actions of the large neoliberal institutions as they organize the looting of the global south.  In spite of the fact that there must be moments when he has seen too many victims with ruined lives, he keep pressing on with surprising amounts of humorous scorn which he heaps on the smug, self-satisfied economic lunatics who clearly have NO idea how much damage they cause or if they do, clearly do not care.

The only thing that keeps driving someone so aware has to be a flicker of hope that someone, or a group of someones, will someday be able to stand up to such evil and ignorance.  With the rise of China and the re-emergence of Russia, that flicker of hope these days seems a bit brighter that a group of someones will finally be able to stand against the destructive economic bullies.  Whether that will happen is still very much an open question, but Escobar's hope is grounded in the reality that the bullies are currently "led" by some of the more inept, lazy, and careless creatures to have ever been allowed near the steering mechanisms of a great empire.  The Obama-Merkel-Camerons of this world may be soon discovering that greed and cruelty, death and destruction, are not enough to thwart the life forces of the world's over 7 billion inhabitants.

Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a well-thought-out alternative to neoliberalism.  And as pleasant as the destruction of neoliberals and their whacky ideas might be, getting rid of them will leave a very large hole to fill.  As someone who has spent much of my time and energy learning about the movements formed to combat the defenders of colonialism, feudalism, slavery, and the rest of the manifestations of classical economic thought, I am fully aware how hard such tasks really are.  Not impossible, but very, VERY difficult.

G7 Hosts Neoliberal Support Group as BRICS Gets Down to Business

The results of the G20 summit speak for themselves. The EU is set to lose at least 15 percent of $330 billion in trade with Russia in 2015, while BRICS trade is expected to double

Chinese President Xi Jinping says BRICS cooperation will not only boost the global economy, but also ensure global peace. Thank goodness there are some adults in the room

Pepe Escobar 18NOV2014

Here’s the G20 in Australia in a one-liner: a tiny bunch of Anglo-Saxon political buffoons attempts to drown out the Global South.

Countries representing over 85 percent of the world economy get together to (in theory) discuss some really heavy economic/financial issues, and virtually the only thing pitiful Western corporate media blabbers about is Russian President Vladimir Putin cutting an ‘isolated figure’.

Well, Washington and its string of puppets did try to turn the G20 into a farce. Fortunately the adults in the room had some business to do.

The five BRICS member-nations – despite their current problems, the G5 that really matters in the world - did meet before the summit, including the ‘isolated figure’. Economically, this G5 more than matches the old, decrepit G7.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff forcefully encouraged the G5 to turbo-charge their mutual cooperation – as well as South-South cooperation. That includes, of course, the BRICS Development Bank. The BRICS, stressing their ‘serious concern’, once again called Washington’s bluff – perpetually refusing to endorse much-delayed structural reform at the IMF.

The IMF quota and governance reform package was in fact approved by the IMF’s Board of Governors way back in 2010. One of its key resolutions was to increase the voting power of emerging markets, the BRICS at the forefront. For Republicans in Washington, this is worse than communism.

Chinese President Xi Jinping added that BRICS cooperation should not only boost the global economy, but also ensure global peace. Make trade, not tomahawks. The over 120 nations of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) – beggars in the G20 banquet - were paying very close attention.

So much ‘aggression’

Now compare the BRICS at work with EU heads of state meeting exclusively with US President Barack Obama to define their ‘strategy’ - not to improve the global economy, but to further demonize Russia.

And this after British Prime Minister David Cameron told Putin in a “robust” meeting he’s at a crossroads and about to be hit with more sanctions; Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper complained he had to shake Putin’s hand; and Australian Prime Minister Tony ‘Shirtfront’ Abbott got everyone to pose with koalas – talk about animal abuse - after apparently backing down on ‘shirtfronting’ the Russian leader.

And it was not only ‘Russian aggression’. Obama, Abbott and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also met separately to increase “military cooperation” and “strengthen maritime security” in the Asia-Pacific. Against (what else?) “Chinese aggression.”

Imperial arrogance and buffoonery apart, Putin did meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel for over three hours. They discussed Ukraine, essentially. No leaks. So Putin met and talked with all the adults that matter: the BRICS and Merkel. There was nothing else to do, business-wise.

In the Russian President’s own words: “It will take nine hours to fly to Vladivostok and another eight hours to get to Moscow. I need four hours sleep before I get back to work on Monday. We have completed our business.”

Oh goodness. That was the cue for Western corporate media go absolutely bonkers spinning the ‘isolated figure’ fled the G20 in shame.

When in doubt, print money

Despite the Anglo-Saxon political gang’s every effort to debase the summit, some – minimalistic - work was done. Even Putin himself hailed the “constructive atmosphere.” More like constructive wishful-thinking atmosphere.

In the final communiqué, a promise was made to increase global GDP by a whopping $2 trillion by 2018. The crux of the magic plan is to facilitate investment in infrastructure, which creates jobs and improves global trade.

By the way, that’s exactly what China has been doing – en masse. China and Russia clinched two humongous gas deals worth $725 billion this year. The $40 billion Silk Road Investment Fund will finance development projects in seven nations across Central Asia. The ‘isolated figure’ has confirmed that Russia’s trade with China and the rest of Asia will rise from 25 percent to 40 percent of Russia’s GDP.

Moreover Russia, China, Iran – and soon other Asian nations – are actively on their way to establish their own currency-clearing systems, independent of the SWIFT system and the US dollar. Russia-China trade and investments are increasingly in rubles and yuan instead of USD. For the buffoons, this is worse than the Apocalypse.

The G20 communiqué also talks about a de facto, renewed neoliberal offensive – from “deregulation” in the markets for goods and services to “flexibility” in the labor market. A hazy global investment hub will be set up in Sydney, but no one really knows how it will work.

The G20 also insisted on the need to combat shadow banking. Pure wishful thinking – as monster shadow players/speculators/outright financial gangsters will prevent it. You’re not seriously going after sewage farms of the “pray to the US dollar, kneel to the Crown” Turks & Caicos kind, are you, boys?

Not surprisingly, every single reference about transparency in extractive industries totally disappeared from the final communiqué. As for climate change, more wishful thinking on “effective action” before the Paris conference in December 2015. Casinos of laundry money could be bet that nothing substantial will happen before or after the conference.

The Wahhabis of neoliberalism obviously derided the attempt by “deadbeat” Argentina to get the G20 to develop a supranational bankruptcy regime. After all, vulture funds of the Paul Singer variety should always be able to act like vultures.

In the end, the ‘isolated figure’ was back to heavy work Monday morning, Moscow time. The EU is set to lose at least 15 percent of $330 billion in trade with Russia in 2015 – while trade among the BRICS will double. The EU’s absolute debacle will continue to be caused to a large extent by neoliberalism. And the diktat by Washington/Wall Street elites that all instances of mixed economy in the EU must be shattered.

While the Fed ends its quantitative easing (QE), the ECB dreams of printing money like crazy, Japan’s Central Bank prints money like crazy and Russia and China buy oceans of physical gold. Under the print money smokescreen, the global economy will keep suffering.

Still, the Russian economy will keep integrating closer with China, Iran and Kazakhstan. The center of global investment and the heart of the action will continue to be – where else? – the Asia-Pacific. No wonder the G20 in 2016 will be hosted by China.

In other news, Pepe Mujica, Uruguay’s former president, did not go to the G20. But let him have the last word. He is stepping out of power. It takes a second to compare his personal dignity, honesty, humility, intelligence, courage, altruism and sound policies with the reckless buffoonery of the Cameron, Harper and Abbott mold.

There are politicians, and ‘politicians’. Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of global public opinion can see right through them. more

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