Transitioning to Geocratia — the People and Planet and Not the Market Paradigm — First Steps

Parting from the fact that saving Planet Earth, our home, changes everything, we need to build a new ethos where the majority of humankind commits to a system whose only purpose is the pursuit of the welfare of people and Planet Earth. This requires that all Earth resources necessary for the enjoyment of life of all living things be managed to achieve true long-term sustainability. — Álvaro J. de Regil

Capitalism of Dispossession in the Palm Oil Plantations in the Countries of the Global South

The commodification of land has deepened the ecological, social and economic crises. The unprecedented global pandemic of the covid-19 virus comes from the destruction of the habitats of species of wild animals and plants and the subsequent migration to humans. The neoliberal model is unsupportable in the sustainable conservation of nature and the planet's economy. A change in the capitalist economy is urgently needed. — Nubia Barrera Silva

The Common Places of Environmental Scepticism

The challenge posed by the ‘limits to growth’ runs beyond the level of ordinary political debate, pointing to a crisis of philosophical anthropology: who are we, and how should we live, if we now believe that progress will not continue forever?— Richard Douglas

The Contagion of Capital

The U.S. economy and society at the start of 2021 is more polarised than it has ever been. The wealthy are awash in a flood of riches, marked by a booming stock market, while the underlying population exists in a state of relative, and in some cases even absolute, misery and decline. The result is two national economies as perceived, respectively, by the top and the bottom of society: one of prosperity, the other of precariousness. At the level of production, economic stagnation is diminishing the life expectations of the majority. At the same time, financialisation is accelerating the consolidation of wealth by a very few. Although the current crisis of production associated with the COVID-19 pandemic has sharpened these disparities, the overall problem is much longer and more deep-seated, a manifestation of the inner contradictions of monopoly-finance capital. Comprehending the parameters of today’s financialised capitalist system is the key to understanding the contemporary contagion of capital, a corrupting and corrosive cash nexus that is spreading to all corners of the globe, and every aspect of human existence. — John Bellamy Foster, R. Jamil Jonna and Brett Clark

COVID-19 and Catastrophe Capitalism — Commodity Chains and Ecological-Epidemiological-Economic Crises

COVID-19 has accentuated as never before the interlinked ecological, epidemiological, and economic vulnerabilities imposed by capitalism. As the world enters the third decade of the twenty-first century, we are seeing the emergence of catastrophe capitalism as the structural crisis of the system takes on planetary dimensions. — John Bellamy Foster and Intan Suwandi

An Eco-Revolutionary Tipping Point?

Just a couple decades ago, we were told that neoliberal capitalism marked the “end of history.” Now it appears that the system’s ideologues may have been right, but not in the way they envisioned. The system of fossil-fuelled neoliberal capitalism is indeed moving toward an end of history, but only in the sense of the end of any historical advance of humanity as a productive, political, and cultural species due to the increasingly barbaric socio-economic and environmental conditions the system creates. There is now no alternative to the end of history as we know it. — Paul Burkett

Marxism and Ecology: Common Fonts of a Great Transition

This essay unearths the deep ecological roots of Marx’s thought, showing how he brought an environmental perspective to bear on the overarching question of social transformation. From there, it traces the evolution of Marxian ecology, illuminating its profound, formative link to modern ecological economics and systems ecology. It concludes by discussing the wider project of building a social movement broad and deep enough to halt and reverse ecological and social destruction. — John Bellamy Foster

(Un)witting Servitude and Minds Manipulation

Despite the profound crisis of the capitalist system, which is now more evident than ever in all aspects of social and individual life, there is no organised anti-establishment reaction from the majorities nor a rigorous and coherent discourse. A messenger, without populist or opportunistic concessions of a revolutionary ideal, is conspicuously absent. The collapse of real socialism and the fictitious and corrupt “socialism of the 21st century” have also contributed to a conditioned rejection of the idea of a socialist transformation of society. With this combination of circumstances, and on the basis of the almost absolute control of the instruments and means of production and communication, the latter with a practically unlimited capacity for the manipulation of minds, the dominant system is winning the battle. We hope that, sooner rather than later, this balance of power, which is disastrous for the future of humanity, will radically change. — Alejandro Teitelbaum

Democracy, Condocertism and Popular Participation

Parting from the fact that the Anthropocene has pushed us beyond the limits of Mother Earth’s resilience, it is urgent to impose strict rules in order to curb the overflowing anthropic impact that is leading us towards an unknown that appears, alas, sadly known to us. It is in this context—the imposition of insuperable limits—that politics becomes fundamental. At first glance, the most appropriate political form to impose strict rules is any form that allows for a more centralised power. However, the new society must be established by deliberation, not by imposition. In this sense, it is democracy that these pages will deal with; trying also to overcome the dispute between representative and direct democracy. I advocate for the proportional system, considering it the maximum representation of elective democracy. — Andrea Surbone

Ethnic-Peasant Resistance iin South America and Meso America to the 4.0 Agriculture of Catastrophe Capitalism

The ethno-peasant economy extended to indigenous peoples in voluntary self-isolation leads to the concept of Mother Earth. This is incompatible with agriculture 4.0 of the Global North in South America and Mesoamerica in areas of territorial expansion towards the Pan-Amazon Region made up of nine countries: Brazil, Venezuela, French Guyana, English Guyana, Suriname, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. These peoples have full respect for and dependence on land, water, air and forests as sources of life. Unlike the concept of Western economic growth with its linear and fragmented approach, the integral vision of the natural economy, as Karl Marx said, is about "living well" and is on the opposite side from the passions and feelings of greed that emerge from the unlimited accumulation of transnational landowning capital. — Nubia Barrera Silva

The Dictatorship of Financial Capitalism

Capitalism, in its current configuration as the global dictatorship of finance capital, is committing crimes against humanity and devastating the planet. "What is the robbing of a bank compared to the founding of a bank?" (Bertold Brecht) — Alejandro Teitelbaum

Life Beyond Capital

People’s everyday lives are lived among the particular people and places that matter to them. They still live lives outside the ever expanding domains of capital. Our environmental and social crises require not the expansion of the worlds of capital, but resistance to that expansion and the growth of spheres of life beyond capital. — Jim O'Neill

Marx's Open-Ended Critique

Two hundred years after Karl Marx’s birth, the influence of his critique of capital is now as great as ever, in the context of what has been called the “Marx revival.” The “greatness” and “vitality” of Marxian social science that Schumpeter notes derives primarily from its inner logic as a form of open-ended scientific inquiry. Against attempts in the dominant ideology to characterise Marx as a rigid, dogmatic, deterministic, and closed thinker, it is precisely the open-endedness of his “ruthless criticism of all that exists”—an open-endedness inherently denied to liberal theory itself—that accounts for historical materialism’s staying power. This openness can be seen in the Marxism’s ability constantly to reinvent itself by expanding its empirical as well as theoretical content, so as to embrace ever larger aspects of historical reality in an increasingly interconnected world. — John Bellamy Foster

The Long Ecological Revolution

In the long ecological revolution before us, the world will necessarily proceed from one earthly struggle to another. If the advent of the Anthropocene tells us anything, it is that humanity, through a single-minded pursuit of economic gain benefitting a relative few, is capable of producing a fatal rift in the biogeochemical cycles of the planet. It is time therefore to find another path: one of sustainable human development. This constitutes the entire meaning of revolution in our time.— John Bellamy Foster

The Anthropocene Crisis

Bellamy Foster points at the rather evident and urgent need to replace and not fix capitalism, so that we can aspire to "rebuild the house of civilization under different architectural principles, creating a more sustainable metabolism of humanity and the earth. The name of the movement to achieve this, rising out of the socialist and radical environmental movements, is ecosocialism, and Facing the Anthropocene is its most up-to-date and eloquent manifesto." — John Bellamy Foster

Labour Value Commodity Chains — The Hidden Abode of Global Production

As in V. I. Lenin’s conceptualisation, imperialism can be broadly defined as the complex intermingling of economic and political interests, related to the efforts of large capital to control economic territory. Imperialism has several interrelated aspects: (1) geopolitical (including military) struggle by nation-states for positions within the international hierarchy of the system, encompassing the control of colonies or neo-colonies, (2) dispossession of petty producers outside of capitalist production, and (3) global exploitation (along with expropriation—or appropriation without an equivalent) of labour in capitalist production, particularly under the domination of multinational firms emanating primarily from the core of the system. This work focuses almost entirely on the third aspect, without in any way denying the significance of the other two. — Intan Suwandi

Capitalism Has Failed — What Next?

To say that capitalism is a failed system is not, of course, to suggest that its breakdown and disintegration is imminent. It does, however, mean that it has passed from being a historically necessary and creative system at its inception to being a historically unnecessary and destructive one in the present century. Today, more than ever, the world is faced with the epochal choice between “the revolutionary reconstitution of society at large and the common ruin of the contending classes.” — John Bellamy Foster

Imperialism in the Anthropocene

Capitalism promotes a “madness of economic reason” that can be seen as undermining the healthy human metabolic relation to the environment. The mere critique of capitalism as an abstract economic system, however, is insufficient in addressing today’s environmental problems. Rather, it is necessary also to examine the structure of accumulation on a world scale, coupled with the division of the world into competing nation-states. Our planetary problems cannot realistically be addressed without tackling the imperialist world system, or globalised capitalism, organised on the basis of classes and nation-states, and divided into center and periphery. Today, this necessarily raises the question of imperialism in the Anthropocene. — John Bellamy Foster, Hannah Holleman and Brett Clark

When Did the Anthropocene Begin… and Why Does It Matter?

The term Anthropocene…suggests that the Earth has now left its natural geological epoch, the present interglacial state called the Holocene. There is a reciprocal process here. Examining social, economic, and political developments can help identify social changes that might have changed the Earth system, and determining when radical physical changes in the Earth system happened provides a basis for determining which human activities were responsible, and thus what measures humans might take to prevent the change from reaching catastrophic proportions. In this article I offer an overview of the issues and stakes in the “when it happened debate. — Ian Angus

Invisible Exploitation — How Capital Extracts Value Beyond Wage Labour

Capitalists have always used more than the wage form alone to extract surplus product from workers. However, this century is particularly distinguished by its growing reliance on alternate methods of extracting surplus. It’s time for Marxists to rethink our preoccupation with the wage and develop a theory encompassing a common ground of exploitation across a wide variety of extractive relations under capitalism. A recognition of that shared exploitation may prove key if the exploited “class-in-itself” is to become a “class-for-itself,” able to unite and act in solidarity. — Eva Swidler

The Underlying Causes of Immigration from Mexico to the United States

This paper focuses on the underlying causes of immigration from Mexico to the United States from a political and socio-economic viewpoint. However, the root causes behind the flows of emigrants in other regions of the world are consistently the same. They result from the impact of powerful geo- political interests on the general population of both the emitting and the receiving countries of the millions of migrants in their escape from unbearable conditions and in pursuit of a dignified life. From this perspective, we will uncover and review the underlying causes of immigration from Mexico to the US, which are structural, in an effort to shed light onto their real solution. — Álvaro J. de Regil

To Die for Wall Street — Coronavirus, Social Classes and the Prevailing Culture

The COVID-19 epidemic has clearly revealed the process of decomposition—progressively accelerated over the past half century—of the capitalist system in its political, economic, social and cultural aspects. The leading political elites that presented themselves as—and long ago were to a certain extent—mediators between the economic power and society, have ceased to be so and, with nuances, are now simply transmission belts of real power: towering financial, industrial and commercial capital. — Alejandro Teitelbaum

The Case for Basic Income

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp relief the irretrievable breakdown of the post-war income distribution system in the West that essentially ties income and benefits to employment. The past four decades have seen income, wealth, and power flowing increasingly to rentiers—owners of physical, financial, and so-called intellectual property—while the ranks of the global precariat swell, consigning workers to unstable jobs, low and erratic incomes, and insecure lives. But the pandemic may prove the undoing of that system, as paying people to stay home—indeed, to not do paid work—has become essential to survival. — Guy Standing

What are we saying when we talk about sustainability? — An Ecological Political Proposal

If you consider 1987 (the Brundtland Report) as the official beginning of the idea of sustainability, the term has made a brilliant journey of almost three decades and is still alive. In its evolution, it has become at the same time a concept, paradigm, theoretical framework, technical instrument, utopia, pretext, ideology and many other things, but above all it has become the word that contains a vague desire of the educated and privileged masses of the planet for a better world in which the human race rediscovers itself ideally with nature and with social justice. Beyond the ideological dimension, and its multiple and ungraspable interpretations, this essay focuses on sustainability as a scientific concept that springs from an interdisciplinary vision of reality, and that for many authors achieves the status of a new paradigm. — Víctor M. Toledo

The Post-Growth Challenge

Critics have long questioned the feasibility (and desirability) of exponential growth on a finite planet. More recently, mainstream economists have begun to suggest some ‘secular’ limits to growth. Sluggish recovery in the wake of the financial crisis has revived discussion of a ‘secular stagnation’ in advanced economies, in particular. Declining growth rates have in their turn been identified as instrumental in increased inequality and the rise of political populism. This paper explores these emerging arguments paying a particular attention to the dynamics of secular stagnation. It explores the underlying phenomenon of declining labour productivity growth and unpacks the close relationships between productivity growth, the wage rate and social inequality. — Tim Jackson

Work and Unionism in Mexico: Challenges for MORENA and the Fourth Transformation Government

The 4T government unleashes both strong fears and hopes depending on the point of view. In this article we will only discuss the prospects for workers and unions. We start, first, by discussing the labour insurgency and strikes in the first few months of 2019 and their results. Next we briefly discuss the principal changes to the labour legislation approved, meaningfully, on 1st of May of the same year. Finally, we offer a preliminary assessment of real wages and labour conditions in Mexico during the first six-to-nine months of 2019 compared with earlier years. We then outline some questions for future research, highlight the absence of an explicit labour policy of the 4T government and outline some challenges for the labour movement. — Enrique de la Garza Toledo and Gerardo Otero

The Preemptive Counterrevolution and the Rise of the Far Right in Brazil

Will the left be capable of radically altering the political course it is currently on, which is mostly relegated to institutions and elections? If, throughout the twentieth century, the epicentre of the left’s actions was institutional and parliamentary action, the biggest challenge in this period will be found elsewhere, somewhere different from that which has dominated and exhausted the left until now. It is imperative to reforge the organic ties between the labor and social movements, with their mosaic of multiple tools and without previous hierarchical structures, taking as a starting point the concrete actions of the working class. If we are on the side of reason and revolution,an indispensable beginning is to ascertain, in a Lukácsian way, what are the vital questions of our time if we want to walk together, in solidarity, toward a new, emancipated way of life. — Ricardo Antunes

A Tale of Two Utopias: Work in a Post-Growth World

In this paper, we aim to contribute to the literature on post-growth futures. Modern imaginings of the future are constrained by the assumptions of growth-based capitalism. To escape these assumptions we turn to utopian fiction. We explore depictions of work in Cokaygne, a utopian tradition dating back to the 12th century, and William Morris's 19th century News from Nowhere. By breaking the link between work and consumption at the level of the individual, we can remove some of the coercion in work. This would free us to do jobs that contribute to the social good, rather than generate exchange value, and empower us to fight for good work. Finally, we draw on eco-feminist analyses of capitalism to argue that by challenging labour productivity growth we can also challenge wider forces of oppression. — Simon Mair, Angela Druckman and Tim Jackson

Unequal Exchange

This Brief assesses economist Arghiri Emmanuel's theory of Unequal Exchange, to delve, from an economic analysis angle, into TLWNSI's central argument: that we endure a North-South system of exploitation, which, among other features, has a direct and premeditated impact on the misery wages paid in all countries in the South. This unequal exchange constitutes a trade imperialism that historically has generated vast earnings for the North, greater than the interests recovered by banks and the profits obtained by transnationals. — Claudio Jedlicki

Keynesian Economics and the Welfare State

This work explains in detail the emergence of the new Keynesian economic paradigm as a consequence of the experience of the Great War and the Great Depression and the results obtained through government intervention during the New Deal. The goal here is to show how the post-war era, with the government in the driver's seat of the economy, provided the greatest period of progress in the welfare of both rich and poor nations, in spite of the very powerful interests that continuously moved in the opposite direction. The essay opens by stating that the war economy pulled the capitalist world out of depression. — Álvaro J. de Regil

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Research and analysis to provoke public awareness and critical thinking

We contribute to the liberalisation of the democratic instituions of society, for they have been captured by the owners of the market. They work in tandem with their market agents, who, posing as public servants, are entrenched in the halls of government. The political class has betrayed its public mandate and instead operates to impose a marketocratic state to maximise the shareholder value of the institutional investors of international financial markets. They own the global corporations and think they own the world on behalf of their very private interest.

Our spheres of action: true democracy – true sustainability – living wage – basic income – inequality – ecological footprint – degrowth – global warming –human development – corporate accountability – civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights, responsible consumption, sustainable autonomous citizen cells...

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Parting from an ethos of true democracy and true sustainability, We, the citizenry, work to advance the paradigm whose only purpose is to go in pursuit of the welfare of People and Planet and NOT the market.

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2020 Report: Living-wage assessment – PPP Wage rate gaps for selected "developed and emerging" economies for all employed in manufacturing workers (1996 up to 2018).

Our 2018 assessment reports divergent outcomes among selected economies that were predominantly the result of a meaningful increase of hourly wages in local currency (or lack of it), exchange rates and changes in their PPP cost of living. Six economies improved their position, four lost ground and four did not change. France, Germany, Italy, South Korea, Singapore and Australia improved their equalisation index (Eq-Idx). Canada, United Kingdom, Spain and Turkey lost ground compared to their 2017 position, whilst Brazil, Mexico, Japan and South Africa experienced no change.

Among the six economies that improved their living-wage equalisation position, the main factors were the substantial increase of their hourly rates in local currency combined with a revaluation of their currency or a decrease in their cost of living in PPP terms for private consumption. In the case of the three euro-area countries (France, Germany and Italy), it was specifically the combination of the increase of their hourly wage rates with a revaluation of the euro. This allowed France, Italy and Germany to increase their equalisation Eq-Idx. This combination served to offset their increase of their PPP cost of living, and increased their advantage over the increase of the US hourly rates in real terms. A similar behaviour took place in the case of Singapore and South Korea. In this way, they clearly outperformed the increase of the US hourly rate in manufacturing and thus increased their equalisation Eq-Idx In fact, Singapore’s Eq-Idx is its best recorded since 1996. Australia, in contrast, devalued its currency, but it achieved the highest improvement of its equalisation Eq-Idx among all 41 economies in our reports, which is equal to its best position previously achieved in 2014. This was the result of a strong increase of its hourly rate in local currency and a currency devaluation, which contributed to a drop of its PPP cost of living.

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2020 Report: Living-wage assessment – New assessment of Argentina's wage rate gap 1996-2018

Our analysis of Argentina’s living wages in the manufacturing sector from a global perspective (purchasing power parities) no longer assumes that Argentina’s government will continue to regard the appreciation of real wages as a fundamental element of its economic policy. As expected, the Macri government did everything possible to resume the old centre-periphery relationship that applies a neocolonial ethos to Argentina’s economic policies. Unfortunately, his economic policies have proven disastrous, and in his four years, inflation and devaluation have exploded, the country fell into default of its sovereign debt, real wages collapsed and poverty increased very meaningfully. One clear direct consequence is that the equalisation indices for at least the 2018 - 2020 period will drop dramatically, from 50 in 2017 to low to mid 30s, which is tantamount to the levels prevalent during the 1996 - 2000 period.

After the staunchly neoliberal Macri government left Argentina’s socio-economic conditions in dire shambles, the new Fernández government is doing its best to recover the gains for the common citizen of the preceding Kirchner-Fernández governments, which will be a rather daunting task, given the recurring crises since the start of this century. For now, living wage equalisation in the manufacturing sector vis-à-vis equivalent US wages has collapsed and is destined to drop to levels reminiscent of the 2002 crisis before it begins to recover.

The new government of Alberto Fernandez immediately implemented a countercyclical package to return to demand-side policies aimed at reducing as much as possible Macri’s neoliberal ethos and his economic policy errors. Some of these are tax hikes on foreign currency purchases, agricultural exports, wealth, and car sales as well as labour protections to increase compensation for unjustified work dismissals. Also, as it happened at the start of the century, Argentina was forced to default on its foreign debt, and has just reached an agreement with vulture funds and other foreign creditors that, for the most part, fulfils their demands and not those of Argentinians. Moreover, Argentina is once again under negotiations with the IMF to reduce its never ending sovereign foreign debt. Furthermore, the economic crisis has been convoluted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which will clearly exacerbate Argentina’s deep recession. So far, inflation appears to be substantially lower in 2020 than in 2019, at 13,5% for the first six months, but expected to hover at 30% by the end of the year, despite the effect of the pandemic on an already depressed demand. As with the rest of the world, GDP will fall drastically, at least 11% and then gradually recover, more as a technical rebound rather than as true growth in 2021. All of these factors will make it difficult for Argentina to recover real wages in manufacturing and gradually bring them to their previous equalisation position relative to the 2002 crisis.

Parting from this rather negative context, the socio-economic picture for Argentina looks a lot like a loss of two decades. This would entail a colossal hardship particularly for the lower ranks of society. One of the greatest benefits of the appreciation of real wages of any country –in the context of a living wage ethos in a market society– is the direct impact on the eradication of the conditions of inequality and exclusion; conditions that have prevailed in Argentina for many decades and were only reduced substantially between 2004 and 2015. It remains to be seen if the new government is capable of performing a successful balancing act between the different variables in an extremely complex scenario.


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2020 Report: Living-wage assessment – New assessment of Brazil's wage rate gap 1996-2018

Temer’s supply-side economic policies that continues with Bolsonaro’s government, have stopped any effort to improve the labour’s share of income and clearly reflect a policy of deliberate wage contention. Temer’s government passed a new law (PEC 55) that freezes all public spending for 20 years, which implies that constitutionally-protected government expenditures in the areas of health, education and other social sectors would remain stunted until 2036. This has ended Brazil’s commitment to sustain its minimum wage appreciation policy, after the minimum wage had more than doubled in real terms since 1996. As for manufacturing wages, they actually lost ground since 1996, which partially recovered from the recession at the start of the century, until the minimum wage appreciation policy had a positive influence from 2010 onwards that is now receding once again. Yet, with a renewed recession during the 2014-2016 period, that only began to subside in 2017 and will fall back into a deep recession due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the staunchly neoliberal and predatory supply-side approach followed by Bolsonaro’s government, Brazil will not resume any gains in real terms from a domestic perspective nor will it resume the closing of its Eq-Idx, from a global perspective, for the foreseeable future. In fact, it is likely to actually increase its equalisation gap with comparative wages in the US in the coming years.

For the entire 24-year period (1996-2018), living wage equalisation of manufacturing hourly wages have not made any improvement whatsoever, and they are slightly lower than in 1996. The hourly rates recovered gradually after the turn of the century recession but by 2018 their equalisation with equivalent US wages are down to a 32 index relative to the 34 index of 1996. Our estimate for 2019, indicates that their Eq-Idx would drop to 31 as the result of a meagre increase estimate in local currency, the actual erosion of the BRL and an increase of the PPP cost of living in local currency. The compounding effect of Bolsonaro’s government predatory economic policy that is clearly anti-labour and the COVID-19 pandemic, make any change for the better rather unlikely for the foreseeable future. Hence, the prospect for living wage equalisation appears grim.

Parting from the implications carried by the shift from demand-side to supply-side economic policy in Brazil’s current government, it appears to be unlikely that any meaningful progress will be achieved in increasing manufacturing wages and wage rates for the entire economy in real terms. In the best case scenario, wages will keep their current value. All of this is further complicated by the deep recession triggered by the pandemic.

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Textile Sweatshops in the US
Textile Sweatshops in the US
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Living-wage assessment – Table T5: 1996-2018 Real wage-gap rates for fourteen selected economies, in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms, for all employed in manufacturing. *(The base table used for all PPP real-wage gap analysis)

Our 2018 assessment reports divergent outcomes among selected economies that were predominantly the result of a meaningful increase of hourly wages in local currency (or lack of it), exchange rates and changes in their PPP cost of living.

Germany continues to have the best position with an increasing equalisation advantage over the US in real PPP terms in its hourly wage rates, followed by France with a four-point advantage over US wage rates. All other countries continue to record wage gaps vis-à-vis equivalent manufacturing wage rates in the US. Six out of the twelve countries improved their position in 2018 vis-à-vis 2017 by increasing their advantage (Germany and France) or decreasing their wage gaps (Italy, Singapore, South Korea and Australia). Brazil and Mexico remained with the same gap since 2016. Only Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain and Turkey increased their gaps from the previous year. Mexico and Brazil continue reporting the greatest wage gaps.

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2020 Report: Living-wage assessment – New assessment of Mexico's wage rate gap 1996-2018

The staunchly predatory, corrupt and fraudulent governments of Mexico, imposed a policy of wage erosion and containment at an extremely precarious level in manufacturing and all economic sectors, as one of the pillars of their economic policy for nearly 36 years. With the current government, this appears to be changing.

Mexico’s track record since 1996 exposed a deliberate state policy of maintaining modern-slave-work real wages between 1996 and 2015. However, their wage policy appears to have changed in 2017 after the execution of consistent supply-side policies over more than three decades. For the first time the federal minimum wage was increased above inflation in 2017 and 2018. Through a so-called “Independent Recovery Amount”, the minimum wage for 2017 was increased arbitrarily by 9,6%, including 3,9% to offset the estimated CPI inflation rate. The same criterion was applied for 2018, for a total minimum wage increase of 10,4%, including a 3,9% increase to offset CPI inflation. In 2019, Mexico’s new government, vowing to implement a strong minimum wage recovery policy, increased the minimum wage by 16,2%, including a 5% increase to offset inflation and by 20% in 2020, including 5% to account for inflation. This changes appear to have a direct positive impact on manufacturing wages in real terms and on its equalisation with comparative US wages. Between 2015 and 2018 the manufacturing hourly rate in local currency increased 43,6%, and by 18,3% in US dollars after accounting for an erosion of the peso, which allowed the PPP conversion factor for private consumption to drop. The combination of these components allowed the Eq-Idx to gain five points in 2016 and then remain at this level in 2017 and 2018.

After two years, it remains to be seen if the government follows this path or resumes abiding by supply-side criteria. Mexico has the worst wages in Iberian America. We have observed 36 years of a deliberate policy of wage pauperisation that has forced a huge population to join the ranks of the precariat. While minimum wage policy appears to be moving on the right track, there are many instances of public matter with the government clearly siding with the interest of capital and not with the people. If, at the end, the labour’s share of income does not improve steadily and shows a marked increase by the end of 2024, we would have to conclude that the only goal of the government was to mitigate the worst characteristics of exploitation and not to change the structures that sustain them.

On the other hand, if the government complies with its campaign promises, it will take decades to both achieve a living-wage ethos and to close the gap with equivalent wages in the manufacturing sector, under the equal pay principle. At the very least, it will take five six-year terms to fulfil this expectation under the presumption that the current government sets the path and materialises the progress that can be achieved by 2024, as illustrated in our projections.

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2020 Report: Living-wage assessment – New assessment of Spain's wage rate gap 1996-2018

In 2018 Spain widened the gap of its equalisation index (Eq-Idx) after a meaningful four-point gain in 2017. The increase in its gap was largely the result of the combined effect of a drop of its hourly rate in euros and a meaningful increase of its cost of living in purchasing power parity terms, with the latter being in turn a consequence of the revaluation of the euro for the most part, since consumer prices increased less than two percent.

Since Spain joined the €uro area, hourly manufacturing wage rates generally performed better than the minimum wage, with rates consistently moving above CPI inflation, whilst the minimum wage increased at lower rates and lost value in real terms between 2001 and 2004. It was only until 2017 and 2018 that the minimum wage outperformed manufacturing wages in real terms relative to CPI inflation, ending 16% above the CPI versus only 9% for the manufacturing hourly rate. Undoubtedly, Spain’s minimum wage will greatly outperform manufacturing wages in 2019 and 2020. We will see to what extent manufacturing wages are influenced by the pressure exerted by the increases to the minimum wage when the hourly manufacturing rates become available. The government has pledged to push for powerful increases to the minimum wage in the next three years for a total increase of 26% by 2023. Yet mounting opposition from employers already forced them to increase the rate in 2020 at half of what they pretended. According to the government, the 2019 minimum wage of Spain was still below the average for the rest of Europe at 80,6%. For now, inflation has not been impacted whatsoever by the unprecedented minimum wage increase. As for unemployment, it continued to drop in 2019, from 26% in 2013 to 13,8% by the end of 2019. But, as could be expected, by second quarter 2020, it has climbed to 15,3% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Living-wage assessment (1996-2018) twenty-eight European economies.

For the 28 European economies in our reports, far more economies increased their Eq-Idx with equivalent hourly wages of US workers than experienced a set back in 2018. As in the vast majority of cases
in the 41 economies included in all our reports, our assessment among European economies found divergent outcomes that were predominantly the result of a meaningful increase of hourly wages in local currency (or lack of it), combined by the behaviour of their exchange rates and their cost of living in purchasing power parity terms for private consumption.

The best performers in increasing their Eq-Idx among European economies in 2018 were Estonia (+6), Ireland (+4), Romania (+4) and Slovakia (+4), whilst the major under performers were Switzerland ((-7) and Hungary (-5). All European economies that improved their living wage equalisation index (Eq-Idx) with equivalent US workers, was primarily the result of significant increases of their hourly compensation wage rates in local currencies—vis-à-vis the US hourly wage rate increase of 1,8%— combined with the revaluation of the euro (4,79% or their national currency). This clearly offset their increase in their PPP cost of living and produced increases of their Eq-Id., Conversely, practically all under performers that widened their wage gap with US hourly compensation wage rates, increased their hourly rates in local currency less than the US hourly rate of +1,8% or actually decreased their hourly rate: Croatia (-1,4%), Hungary (-8,1%), Spain (-0,6%), Switzerland (-7,8%) and UK (+0,7%). Lithuania was one exception due to a high increase of its cost of living (+6,7%) despite its hourly rate increase of 2,6%, and Turkey that suffered a steep devaluation of 24,4% that offset its hourly rate increase of 13,2%.

•Among the 16 euro-zone economies, nine increased their Eq-Idx, Austria, Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands and Portugal did not change and Lithuania and Spain widened their living-wage gap. The combination of the same variables described above for all Europe drew similar results in euro-zone countries: (1) a meaningful increase in the hourly compensation wage rate in local currency (averaging 4,5%), combined with (2) the significant revaluation of the euro against the dollar of 4,8%, were sufficient in most cases to offset the increase in their PPP for private consumption cost of living (averaging 4,9%) and the increase of 1,8% of the US hourly wage rate. This resulted in a 9,5% average increase in the hourly rate of the 16 euro economies in US dollars. Some economies experienced extremely strong increases of the hourly rate in local currency. Estonia recorded the strongest increase at 17,8% in local currency —which translated into a 23,5% increase of its hourly rate in US dollars and on its Eq-Idx, equivalent to a six-point gain, from 43 to 49— followed by Slovakia at 16,8% and Ireland at 11,4% in US dollars. Only Spain and Lithuania increased their living wage gaps due to increases of 4,1% and 7,5% in US dollars that were offset by increases of their PPP cost of living of 5,9% and 6,7%, respectively.

•Among the 12 Eastern European economies, including the euro-zone economies of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia, a marked improvement in their Eq-Idx is evident as a continuation of a powerful trend that has been closing the Eq-Idx gap since 1996, with Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia, more than doubling their 1996 Eq-Idx. The best performers in 2018 were Estonia (+6), Romania and Slovakia, with 4 points each, and The Czech Republic and Poland with 3 points each. Overall, performance was very positive for the 12 economies, once again as a result of the combination of the same variables with the same behaviour: (1) a strong increase in the hourly compensation wage rate in local currency (averaging 7,6%), (2) small change in their PPP for private consumption cost of living (averaging 3,7%), (3) a meaningful revaluation of their currencies against the dollar of 2,3%, which resulted in a strong increase of their wage rates in US dollars (averaging 9,8%), enough to offset the 1,8% increase of the US wage rate and thus increase the Eq-Idx for eight of the 12 economies. If we exclude the euro-zone economies in Eastern Europe, the gains are also considerable for Bulgaria (+1), Czech Republic (+3), Poland(+3) and Romania (+4), Conversely, Croatia, Hungary and Turkey lost ground, with Hungary recording the worst performance as the result of the steep drop of its rate in local currency (-8,1%) and increase of PPP (3,4%) and small revaluation of only 2,6%, which resulted in a drop of 6,6% in its US dollar rate and a loss of 5 points in tis Eq-Idx. Turkey recorded a steep devaluation of 24,4% but its hourly rate increase of 13,2% and the drop of 14,4% in the PPP cost of living allow it to lose only one point in its Eq-Idx.

•The United Kingdom lost two points in its Eq-Idx due to little change in its local currency wage rate (0,7%) and an increase of 4,2% of its PPP despite a 3,7% pound revaluation. Surprisingly, Switzerland recorded the worst performance in all of Europe due to a steep drop of its hourly rate in local currency of -7,8% and little change of its exchange and PPP rates, which resulted in a drop of -7,2% of its rate in US dollars and a loss of seven points.

•Scandinavia, including euro zone Finland, recorded a positive performance. Denmark gained three points, followed by Norway and Sweden with +1 in their Eq-Idx, Only Finland recorded no change. It is worth noting that Denmark, Norway and Sweden have Eq-Idx above 100 and only Finland lags with a 92 Eq-Idx.

 

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Living-wage assessment (1996-2018) eight Asia and Oceania economies.

In 2018 Australia, Singapore, South Korea and New Zealand improved their equalisation index (Eq-Idx) in manufacturing, Japan recorded no change and China and India
experienced slight set backs. All gains are largely the result of increases of their hour wage rates in local currency in manufacturing, combined with currency devaluations or decreases in their PPP cost of living for private consumption. Conversely, set backs are, for the most part, the result of decreases in the hourly wage rates in local currency.

•In 2018, Australia recorded the best performance of its Eq-Idx among all 41 economies in our reports by increasing it nine points to a 90 Eq-Idx, which is equal to its best position previously achieved in 2014. This was the result of a strong increase (6,6%) of its hourly rate in local currency and a 2,5% currency devaluation, which contributed to a drop of its PPP cost of living of 2,9%.

•Singapore also recorded a strong performance with a six-point gain as the result of an increase of its hourly wage rate in local currency of 6,6%, a revaluation of its currency of 2,4% and minimal increase of only 0,4% of its PPP cost of living. In this way, Singapore clearly outperformed the 1,8% increase of the US hourly rate in manufacturing and thus increased its equalisation by six points to an 89 Eq-Idx, its best position ever and the second best performance after Australia in 2018.

•South Korea followed with a similar behaviour of the key indicators, gaining three points to a 72 Eq-Idx due to a 5,9% increase of its hourly rate in local currency and a 2,7% revaluation of its currency, which was enough to offset the 2,8% increase of its PPP cost of living.

•New Zealand gained one point in its Eq-Idx (56) due to a 1,8% increase of its hourly rate in local currency, a currency devaluation 2,6% and a drop of 3,5% of its cost of living.

•Japan experienced no change in its Eq-Idx (65) due to a PPP increase of 1,3%, little increase of its hourly wage rate in local currency (0,9%) and a currency revaluation of 1,6%.

•India recorded a one-point loss in its meagre Eq-Idx (14) due to a drop of its hourly wage rate in local currency of 1,7%. India recorded a meaningful currency devaluation of 4,8% and a 2,5% drop of its PPP cost of living, but they were not enough to offset the drop in its hourly wage rate and the 1,8% increase of the US hourly wage rate.

•China also lost one point in its meagre Eq-Idx (18) due to the scant increase of only 1,5% of its hourly wage rate in local currency and a very strong increase of its PPP cost of living of 10,3%, the strongest by far among the 41 economies in our reports.

•As for the Philippines, it has not reported yet an update to its “Compilation of Industry Statistics on Labour and Employment”.

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Living-wage assessment (1996-2018) – the four largest economies in the Americas (Canada, Brazil, Mexico and Argentina).

2018 in the Americas exhibits a clear set back or a stagnation in living-wage equalisation for the four economies in this assessment, with a dramatic loss for Argentina, also a loss for Canada and no
change for Brazil and Mexico in their equalisation indices (Eq-Idx) with comparable US hourly rates in manufacturing.

Canada lost a very meaningful three points in its Eq-Idx drop as the direct result of a rare drop of its hourly rate in manufacturing in local currency, with minimal change in its PPP cost of living and exchange rate. This puts Canada at an 82 Eq-Idx, which is one of the lowest positions recorded since 1996.

•Argentina has experienced a gradual erosion of its Eq-Idx as the direct result of incontrolable high inflation rates since 2008. This erosion began to deepen with the Macri government. In 2017, there was a slight recovery, just before the supply-side staunchly neoliberal economic policies of the, at the time, new government began to dramatically reverse the gains in real wages and labour’s share of income delivered by the previous governments. Contrary to its vow to reduce inflation, which averaged 25,6% in the previous government, the policies of Macri´s government averaged 41,4% in CPI inflation during its four years (2016-2019) and the Argentine peso devalued by 81%. Hence, as expected, in 2018 Argentina’s equalisation index collapsed by dropping 8 points, equivalent to a loss of 16%, the worst performance by far among the 41 economies included in our reports. A new economic crisis exploded closely resembling the 2002 collapse, and all wages have dropped dramatically. In 2018 the minimum wage increased 12,9% but inflation reached 47,8%. In 2018, manufacturing hourly rates increased 26,1% in pesos, but the 41% devaluation produced a drop of 25,7% of its hourly rate in US dollars. Thus, despite a drop of 13% in its PPP cost of living, Argentina’s equalisation index recorded a very steep drop and in 2019 will drop even more, as inflation and devaluation rates became even worse, at 54% and 42% respectively. This will take Argentina back to conditions reminiscent of its previous crisis of 2002-2004.

•After Brazil widened its manufacturing wage gap in 2014 and 2016, due to the devaluation of its currency since 2010 under a sustained recession, it managed to keep its Eq-Idx stable in 2017 and 2018, despite the fact that the neoliberal government of Michele Temer passed a law that put a freeze on public spending effectively ending compliance with the minimum wage appreciation law. Minimum wage policy serves as an indicator for all other wages and directly influences manufacturing wages. End of year inflation rates for 2015, 2016 and 2017, added up to 21%, but manufacturing hourly rates in local currency increased only 15,9% during the 2016-2018 period, As for exchange rates, Brazil’s real has managed to experience a minimal loss of only 4,5% during the same period. This has allowed Brazil’s manufacturing Eq-Idx to suffer a minimal erosion, from 32,2 to 31,6 for the same period, given that Brazil’s cost of living in PPP terms dropped 11,6% in 2018. However, Brazil’s Real lost 7,4% in 2019 and has lost 29,2% in 2020 up to the end of August. Thus the combination of Brazil’s increase in currency erosion and Bolsonaro’s reckless deepening of the anti-labour policies initiated by the Temer government, is bound to widen Brazil’s manufacturing hourly wage rates gap, in real terms, with comparable rates in the US in 2019 and 2020.

•After more than three decades of deliberate state policies to impose modern-slave-work wages, Mexico appears to be gradually reversing such policies. This has resulted in the increase of the minimum wage in real terms beginning in 2017 and 2018 with the previous government, a directive that has been reinforced in 2019 and 2020 with the present government. In 2016, Mexico’s Eq-Idx jumped to an unprecedented level of 24, an increase of 21,2% from 2015, as the result of the combination of a 15,1% currency devaluation, a low inflation (2,7%) and a nominal increase in pesos of 27,7%, which resulted in an increase of 8,4% in US dollars despite Mexico’s peso erosion. As for 2017 and 2018, the hourly rate has increased only 5,7% and 6,4% in nominal terms, somewhat above inflation rates of 2,8% and 6% respectively, resulting in a slight increase in its Eq-Idx from 23,6 in 2017 to 24,1 in 2018. It seams clear that, as expected, the government’s demand-side minimum wage policy is gradually pushing wages up in manufacturing and all sectors. 2019 should show this more clearly for the minimum wage increased 16,1%, inflation 3,6%, the peso only slid 0,1% and the US hourly rate in manufacturing increased only 0,8%, which should increase the manufacturing Eq-Idx at least one point.




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The Politics of Food in Venezuela

Few countries and political processes have been subject to such scrutiny, yet so generally misunderstood, as Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution. This is particularly true today, as the international media paints an image of absolute devastation in the country, wrought by failed policies and government mismanagement. At the same time, the three national elections of 2017 demonstrated a strong show of support for the continuation of the revolution under its current leadership. This seeming paradox, we are told, can only be attributed to government tendencies of co-optation and clientelism, along with a closing of democratic space. Such messages are reproduced many times over, both in the media and in certainintellectual circles.

A benefit of the intense attention paid to Venezuela is that a recurring narrative can be identified, which goes basically as follows. The central character is Hugo Chávez Frías, a strong-armed political leader who enjoyed the double advantage of personal charisma and high oil prices over the course of his presidency from 1999 through 2012. In 2013, Chávez died, and the following year global oil prices plunged. Amid the perfect storm of the loss of Chávez, the collapse in oil prices, and the government’s misguided policies, Venezuela has steadily slid into a state of economic and political disintegration, with food and other necessities growing scarce, in turn sparking social unrest as people take to the streets.The government, headed by Chávez’s less charismatic successor, Nicolás Maduro, is going to desperate lengths to hang onto power, becoming increasingly authoritarian in the process, while maintaining the populist rhetoric of Chávez’s Bolivarian Revolution.

However, this dominant narrative does not capture the complexities of what is happening in Venezuela today. There are significant holes in the account, which raise important questions: who are “the people” at the center of this analysis? What, if any, are the different impacts of present challenges on various sectors of society? How should the Venezuelan state be understood, and where and how does the role of capital figure? By focusing on the politics of food as a key area in which the country’s broader politics are playing out—particularly by looking at recent shortages and food lines, as well as what have been presented as “food riots”—a multitude of issues can be better understood. Often-ignored matters of race, class, gender, and geography demand special attention.

We will begin by looking to the past to situate present trends in their proper context. By homing in on the dynamics around Venezuela’s most highly consumed staple foods, we can gain insight into the current conjuncture, particularly the recent food shortages. Some of the main drivers of the shortages come from forces opposing the Bolivarian Revolution, which are increasingly gaining ground within the state. We will then discuss responses to the shortages by the government and popular forces.

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Energy, Economic Growth, and Ecological Crisis

Can economic growth continue forever? This relatively simple question has posed some intellectual headaches for modern capitalism. In the Grundrisse, Karl Marx argued that capital cannot tolerate any limits, by which he meant that the drive for growth and the search for new markets are both necessary for the political and economic survival of capitalism. Viewed in this light, the implications of the question present something of an existential challenge to the current order. Capitalism cannot acknowledge any natural limits to economic growth, for that would mean acknowledging its ultimate demise. To keep up the pretence that capitalism represents a quasi-eternal and invincible system, most political leaders and economists who support the current order have begun reciting a series of elaborate narratives about the relationship between human economies and the natural world.

These narratives all revolve around the central idea that we can decouple economic growth from the material needs of human civilisation. Until the late twentieth century, economists generally understood that more economic growth required the use of more energy and materials. But as the postwar compromises between labour and capital began collapsing in the 1970s and ’80s, economic theories started to shift in emphasis and direction. Inspired by neoclassical theories, a new generation of economists began to argue that economic growth could continue without the consumption of additional resources from the environment. They claimed that we could reach this economic nirvana by doing more with less, investing in clean energy, and developing energy-efficient technologies. In short, they were arguing for nothing less than the long-term sustainability of capitalism, ignoring all the science and evidence piling up along the way.

Our political and business leaders, indoctrinated by capitalist propaganda throughout their lives, have come to believe that economic growth is like a magical elixir capable of curing all evils. For most people in the modern world, it does not seem like an alternative to economic growth, as currently calculated under capitalism, is even conceivable. But imagining and realising these important alternatives may be the only way to spare human civilisation from a looming disaster. Instead of organising our societies and economies around the principle of growth, we should organise them around the principle of sustainable human development, which requires the metabolic stability of the wider ecosphere. By tightly constraining the levels of production and consumption around some dynamic equilibrium and emphasising qualitative human-social relations, as opposed to the cash nexus, we can avoid the periodic bubbles and crises of capitalism while also prolonging the duration of human civilisation. And by distributing more wealth and resources to workers and common people, we can build a fair society untroubled by recurring spasms of political and economic instability. The social and the ecological are inseparable, and together they represent the intensifying political battleground of this millennium. Future generations will judge us harshly if we fail to seize this exceptional moment in history. The impending convergence of crises, from the economic to the ecological, demands nothing less than a new vision for our social order.
 

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The Physics of Capitalism

How it interacts with the laws of the natural world

People tend to think of capitalism in economic terms. Karl Marx argued that capitalism is a political and economic system that transforms the productivity of human labor into large profits and returns for those who own the means of production. Its proponents contend that capitalism is an economic system that promotes free markets and individual liberty. And opponents and advocates alike most often measure capitalism’s impact in terms of wealth and income, wages and prices, and supply and demand.

However, human economies are complex biophysical systems that interact with the wider natural world, and none can be fully examined apart from their underlying material conditions. By exploring some fundamental concepts in physics, we can develop a better understanding of how all economic systems work, including the ways that the energy-intensive activities of capitalism are changing humanity and the planet.

This article will explain how the fundamental features of both our natural and economic existence depend on the principles of thermodynamics, which studies the relationships between quantities such as energy, work, and heat. A firm grasp of how capitalism works at a physical level can help us understand why our next economic system should be more ecological, prioritising long-run stability and compatibility with the global ecosphere that sustains humanity.

Such an understanding requires a glance at some central concepts in physics. These include energy, entropy, dissipation, and the various rules of nature that bind them together. The central features of our natural existence, as living organisms and as human beings, emerge from the collective interactions described by these core physical realities. Although these concepts can be difficult to define without reference to specific models and theories, their general features can be outlined and analysed to reveal the powerful intersection between physics and economics.

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Capitalism and Robbery

The Expropriation of Land, Labor, and Corporeal Life

The expropriation of the mass of the people from the soil constitutes the basis of the capitalist mode of production. —Karl Marx


The power of abstraction, Karl Marx noted, is absolutely crucial to the theoretical analysis of historical systems, as exemplified by his critique of capitalist political economy. But while the force of abstraction is indispensable to any attempt to grasp the inner character of capital, also implicit in Marx’s historical materialism is the notion that capitalism can never be reduced simply to its internal logic. Rather, it is also the product of numerous contingent historical conditions that form the empirical boundaries and limits within which the system operates and are integral to its functioning. Thus, historical capitalism cannot be understood aside from its existence as a colonial/imperialist world system in which the violent exercise of power is an ever-present reality. In order to uncover the material conditions governingconcrete capitalism, including its interface with land, non-wage labor, and corporeal life, it is therefore necessary to go beyond the inner reality of exploitation, and address expropriation, or the process of appropriation without equivalent (or without reciprocity) through which capital has sought to determine its wider parameters.

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Neoliberal economics, planetary health, and the COVID-19 pandemic: a Marxist ecofeminist analysis

Planetary health sees neoliberal capitalism as a key mediator of socioecological crises, a position that is echoed in much COVID-19 commentary. In this Personal View, I set out an economic theory that emphasises some of the ways in which neoliberal capitalism's conceptualisation of value has mediated responses to COVID-19. Using the intersection of ecological, feminist, and Marxist economics, I develop an analysis of neoliberal capitalism as a specific historical form of the economy. I identify the accumulation of exchange value as a central tendency of neoliberal capitalism and argue that this tendency creates barriers to the production of other forms of value. I then analyse the implications of this tendency in the context ofresponses to COVID-19. I argue that resources and labour flow to the production of exchange value, at the expense of production of other value forms. Consequently, the global capitalist economy has unprecedented productive capacity but uses little of this capacity to create the conditions that improve and maintain people's health. To be more resilient to coming crises, academics, policy makers, and activists should do theoretical work that enables global economies to recognise multiple forms of value and political work that embeds these theories in societal institutions.

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 The Underlying Causes of Immigration
New dedicated space 2020!
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2020 Report: Living-wage assessment – PPP Wage rate gaps for selected "developed and emerging" economies for all employed in manufacturing workers (1996 up to 2018).

Our 2018 assessment reports divergent outcomes among selected economies that were predominantly the result of a meaningful increase of hourly wages in local currency (or lack of it), exchange rates and changes in their PPP cost of living. Six economies improved their position, four lost ground and four did not change. France, Germany, Italy, South Korea, Singapore and Australia improved their equalisation index (Eq-Idx). Canada, United Kingdom, Spain and Turkey lost ground compared to their 2017 position, whilst Brazil, Mexico, Japan and South Africa experienced no change.

Among the six economies that improved their living-wage equalisation position, the main factors were the substantial increase of their hourly rates in local currency combined with a revaluation of their currency or a decrease in their cost of living in PPP terms for private consumption. In the case of the three euro-area countries (France, Germany and Italy), it was specifically the combination of the increase of their hourly wage rates with a revaluation of the euro. This allowed France, Italy and Germany to increase their equalisation Eq-Idx. This combination served to offset their increase of their PPP cost of living, and increased their advantage over the increase of the US hourly rates in real terms. A similar behaviour took place in the case of Singapore and South Korea. In this way, they clearly outperformed the increase of the US hourly rate in manufacturing and thus increased their equalisation Eq-Idx In fact, Singapore’s Eq-Idx is its best recorded since 1996. Australia, in contrast, devalued its currency, but it achieved the highest improvement of its equalisation Eq-Idx among all 41 economies in our reports, which is equal to its best position previously achieved in 2014. This was the result of a strong increase of its hourly rate in local currency and a currency devaluation, which contributed to a drop of its PPP cost of living.

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Democratising Firms

–A Cornerstone of Shared and Sustainable Prosperity

A conundrum faces us as we consider the future of politics. Some hold up environmental sustainability as a barrier to shared prosperity, deriding it as elitist and too costly, arguing that broad access to jobs, food, and housing is only possible if we give environmental concerns a back seat—which, given our planet’s current state, is pure folly. Others feel that measures to protect the environment must take precedent over everything else, even at the expense of the poorest. To make matters worse, the extremists currently sweeping elections in many countries are threatening the future of democracy itself. These issues are so pressing that it is easy to fall into a debate over which is the more pressing. Urgency has always made external constraint, either from regulatory bodies and strong state governments or through force, coercion, and concentrations of authority, more palatable, and even appealing. Democracy might be a good idea when things are going well for the people, but when the future feels uncertain and dangerous, the siren song of the powerful leader becomes all but irresistible. This essay will argue that it is possible to respond to citizens’ concerns over these issues, and the care for the planet, in an entirely different way: by expanding democracy into large transnational firms in order to build a kind of internal constraint to their behaviour and decisions. I will argue that by addressing what I have called workers’ ‘intuition of democratic justice’1 —that is, their sense to their right to a say in their lives and futures in and outside the workplace—we can build a more democratic, and more prosperous and sustainable world all at once. .________________________
 

Castellano The Underlying Causes of Immigration