FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Elite Optimism Amid Endless Crisis

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.

More articles by:

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.

November 13, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Midterm Results are Challenging Racism in America in Unexpected Ways
Victor Grossman
Germany on a Political Seesaw
Cillian Doyle
Fictitious Assets, Hidden Losses and the Collapse of MDM Bank
Lauren Smith
Amnesia and Impunity Reign: Wall Street Celebrates Halliburton’s 100th Anniversary
Joe Emersberger
Moreno’s Neoliberal Restoration Proceeds in Ecuador
Carol Dansereau
Climate and the Infernal Blue Wave: Straight Talk About Saving Humanity
Dave Lindorff
Hey Right Wingers! Signatures Change over Time
Dan Corjescu
Poetry and Barbarism: Adorno’s Challenge
Patrick Bond
Mining Conflicts Multiply, as Critics of ‘Extractivism’ Gather in Johannesburg
Ed Meek
The Kavanaugh Hearings: Text and Subtext
Binoy Kampmark
Concepts of Nonsense: Australian Soft Power
November 12, 2018
Kerron Ó Luain
Poppy Fascism and the English Education System
Conn Hallinan
Nuclear Treaties: Unwrapping Armageddon
Robert Hunziker
Tropical Trump Declares War on Amazonia
John W. Whitehead
Badge of Shame: the Government’s War on Military Veterans
Will Griffin
Military “Service” Serves the Ruling Class
John Eskow
Harold Pinter’s America: Hard Truths and Easy Targets
Rob Okun
Activists Looking Beyond Midterm Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Mid-Term Divisions: The Trump Take
Dean Baker
Short-Term Health Insurance Plans Destroy Insurance Pools
George Wuerthner
Saving the Buffalohorn/Porcupine: the Lamar Valley of the Gallatin Range
Patrick Howlett-Martin
A Note on the Paris Peace Forum
Joseph G. Ramsey
Does America Have a “Gun Problem”…Or a White Supremacy Capitalist Empire Problem?
Weekend Edition
November 09, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Louis Proyect
Why Democrats Are So Okay With Losing
Andrew Levine
What Now?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Chuck and Nancy’s House of Cards
Brian Cloughley
The Malevolent Hypocrisy of Selective Sanctions
Marc Levy
Welcome, Class of ‘70
David Archuleta Jr.
Facebook Allows Governments to Decide What to Censor
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Zika Scare: a Political and Commercial Maneuver of the Chemical Poisons Industry
Nick Pemberton
When It Comes To Stone Throwing, Democrats Live In A Glass House
Ron Jacobs
Impeach!
Lawrence Davidson
A Tale of Two Massacres
José Tirado
A World Off Balance
Jonah Raskin
Something Has Gone Very Wrong: An Interview With Ecuadoran Author Gabriela Alemán
J.P. Linstroth
Myths on Race and Invasion of the ‘Caravan Horde’
Dean Baker
Good News, the Stock Market is Plunging: Thoughts on Wealth
David Rosen
It’s Time to Decriminalize Sex Work
Dan Glazebrook
US Calls for a Yemen Ceasefire is a Cynical Piece of Political Theatre
Jérôme Duval
Forced Marriage Between Argentina and the IMF Turns into a Fiasco
Jill Richardson
Getting Past Gingrich
Dave Lindorff
Not a Blue Wave, But Perhaps a Foreshock
Martha Rosenberg
Dangerous, Expensive Drugs Aggressively Pushed? You Have These Medical Conflicts of Interest to Thank
Will Solomon
Not Much of a Wave
Nicolas J S Davies
Why Yemeni War Deaths are Five Times Higher Than You’ve Been Led to Believe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail