FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Elite Optimism Amid Endless Crisis

by BEN SCHREINER

An economic recovery has begun.

– President Obama, Second Inaugural Address

President Obama’s optimism — baseless as it may be — was surely appreciated at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.  For in what was described as the “most optimistic” meeting since 2007, 2,600 members of the global elite convened over the weekend at their exclusive Davos, Switzerland retreat to once again set upon “improving the state of the world.”

In a certain respect the cautious hopefulness of Davos 2013 was perhaps justified, as it was only a year ago when the retreat was preempted by warnings of a looming “period of evil” and the potential “collapse of the financial system” from no less than George Soros.

Yet, one year later, while optimism gains a foothold amongst the world’s elite, the evil doled out by global capitalism continues unabated.

According to a recent report by the International Labor Organization (ILO), “The number of unemployed worldwide rose by 4.2 million in 2012 to over 197 million.”  And as the report goes on to warn, global unemployment could increase even further in 2013.

Global youth unemployment, meanwhile, remains particularly dire.  According to the ILO report, nearly 74 million people between the ages of 15 and 24 are unemployed.

“Some 35 per cent of unemployed youth in advanced economies have been out of a job for six months or longer,” the report continues.  “As a consequence, increasing numbers of young people are getting discouraged and leaving the labour market.”

And for those currently languishing in the global reserve army of labor, the forecasts for meager growth offer little hope for a reprieve.

According to the latest World Economic Outlook by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), global growth is projected to reach 3.5 percent in 2013.  That is a downward revision of 0.1 percent from the Fund’s October outlook.  But the outlook is much worse for the advanced economies.

The IMF projects the euro area to contract 0.2 percent in 2013, with contractions in Italy and Spain of 1.0 and 1.5 percent respectfully.

In France, where youth unemployment is already over 25 percent, growth is projected to register a measly 0.3 percent.

In Britain, it is the specter of a triple-dip recession that looms, after a contraction of 0.3 percent was seen in the last quarter of 2012.  As the Guardian reports, “The economy remains 3.5% below its peak in 2007 and is not expected to regain its previous level for at least another two years, making it the longest recovery in 100 years.”

Growth in the U.S., meanwhile, is projected by the IMF to come in at 2 percent — a downward revision of 0.1 percent from the Fund’s October outlook.  This, as inequality in the U.S. continues to worsen.

But even this rather bleak outlook for the world’s advanced economies may be too optimistic.

As the IMF cautions, “downside risks remain significant, including prolonged stagnation in the euro area and excessive short-term fiscal tightening in the United States.”

Indeed, as the Economist warns, “You might think that six years after the global financial crisis first broke, the downturn would be well behind us and the economy would be humming along.  Instead, huge swaths of the world seem to be embarking on a Japanese-style experiment with long-term stagnation.”

This is precisely what Marxists scholars John Bellamy Foster and Robert McChesney argue in their latest book, The Endless Crisis.

Showing that the globalized system of monopoly-finance capital is characterized by a dangerous stagnation-financialization trap, Foster and McChesney argue that it is in fact stagnation that is now the norm — not growth.  And this stagnant reality has left greater financialization as the only acceptable remedy for the global elite.

“Yet,” Foster and McChesney write, “rather than overcoming the stagnation problem, this renewed financialization will only serve at best to put off the problem, while piling on further contradictions, setting the stage for even bigger shocks in the future.”

Of course, figuring out how to put off the problem, while piling on further contradictions, is where the World Economic Forum comes in.  After all, despite the pretentious claims of “improving the state of the world,” Davos is really little more than a posh mountain retreat held for global elites hell-bent on preserving their own privileged class positions.  And as for that world they purportedly seek to improve, all Davos ever has to offer those beyond its pearly gates is the mysticism of invisible hands.

And in this sense, the growing talk of an “economic recovery” is but the byproduct of a world suspended in an illusion annually cultivated high up in the Swiss Alps.  But for the global elite, that’s evidently grounds for optimism.

Ben Schreiner is a freelance writer based in Wisconsin.  He may be reached at bnschreiner@gmail.com or via his website.

Ben Schreiner is the author of A People’s Dictionary to the ‘Exceptional Nation’.  He may be reached at bnschreiner@gmail.com or via his blog.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 25, 2016
Mike Whitney
The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives Up on Empire
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
The Louisiana Catastrophe Proves the Need for Universal, Single-Payer Disaster Insurance
John W. Whitehead
Another Brick in the Wall: Children of the American Police State
Lewis Evans
Genocide in Plain Sight: Shooting Bushmen From Helicopters in Botswana
Daniel Kovalik
Colombia: Peace in the Shadow of the Death Squads
Sam Husseini
How the Washington Post Sells the Politics of Fear
Ramzy Baroud
Punishing the Messenger: Israel’s War on NGOs Takes a Worrying Turn
Norman Pollack
Troglodyte Vs. Goebbelean Fascism: The 2016 Presidential Race
Simon Wood
Where are the Child Victims of the West?
Roseangela Hartford
The Hidden Homeless Population
Mark Weisbrot
Obama’s Campaign for TPP Could Drag Down the Democrats
Rick Sterling
Clintonites Prepare for War on Syria
Yves Engler
The Anti-Semitism Smear Against Canadian Greens
August 24, 2016
John Pilger
Provoking Nuclear War by Media
Jonathan Cook
The Birth of Agro-Resistance in Palestine
Eric Draitser
Ajamu Baraka, “Uncle Tom,” and the Pathology of White Liberal Racism
Jack Rasmus
Greek Debt and the New Financial Imperialism
Robert Fisk
The Sultan’s Hit List Grows, as Turkey Prepares to Enter Syria
Abubakar N. Kasim
What Did the Olympics Really Do for Humanity?
Renee Parsons
Obamacare Supporters Oppose ColoradoCare
Alycee Lane
The Trump Campaign: a White Revolt Against ‘Neoliberal Multiculturalism’
Edward Hunt
Maintaining U.S. Dominance in the Pacific
George Wuerthner
The Big Fish Kill on the Yellowstone
Jesse Jackson
Democrats Shouldn’t Get a Blank Check From Black Voters
Kent Paterson
Saving Southern New Mexico from the Next Big Flood
Arnold August
RIP Jean-Guy Allard: A Model for Progressive Journalists Working in the Capitalist System
August 23, 2016
Diana Johnstone
Hillary and the Glass Ceilings Illusion
Bill Quigley
Race and Class Gap Widening: Katrina Pain Index 2016 by the Numbers
Ted Rall
Trump vs. Clinton: It’s All About the Debates
Eoin Higgins
Will Progressive Democrats Ever Support a Third Party Candidate?
Kenneth J. Saltman
Wall Street’s Latest Public Sector Rip-Off: Five Myths About Pay for Success
Binoy Kampmark
Labouring Hours: Sweden’s Six-Hour Working Day
John Feffer
The Globalization of Trump
Gwendolyn Mink – Felicia Kornbluh
Time to End “Welfare as We Know It”
Medea Benjamin
Congress Must Take Action to Block Weapon Sales to Saudi Arabia
Halyna Mokrushyna
Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine
Manuel E. Yepe
Tourism and Religion Go Hand-in-Hand in the Caribbean
ED ADELMAN
Belted by Trump
Thomas Knapp
War: The Islamic State and Western Politicians Against the Rest of Us
Nauman Sadiq
Shifting Alliances: Turkey, Russia and the Kurds
Rivera Sun
Active Peace: Restoring Relationships While Making Change
August 22, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton: The Anti-Woman ‘Feminist’
Robert Hunziker
Arctic Death Rattle
Norman Solomon
Clinton’s Transition Team: a Corporate Presidency Foretold
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Hubris: Only Tell the Rich for $5000 a Minute!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail