A gathering ‘perfect storm’ – due to various developments, several quite deliberate – now threatens much devastation in the global South, likely to most hurt the poorest and most vulnerable.
The Year of the Dragon is upon us.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message for this Lunar New Year, “The dragon symbolizes energy, wisdom, protection and good luck. We need these qualities to rise to today’s global challenges.”
Contractionary economic trends since 2008 and ‘geopolitical’ conflicts subverting international cooperation have worsened world conditions, especially in the poorest countries, mainly in Africa, leaving their poor worse off.
At high cost and with dubious efficiency, public-private partnerships (PPPs) have increased private profits at the public expense. PPPs have proved costly in financing public projects.
The World Bank insists commercial finance is necessary for achieving economic recovery and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but does little to ensure profit-hungry commercial finance serves the public interest.
By failing to address pressing challenges within their purview, the second-ever Bretton Woods institutions’ (BWIs) annual meetings on the African continent, in Marrakech in October 2023, set the developing world even further back.
With the US Fed raising interest rates, the world economy is slowing as debt distress spreads across the global South, increasing poverty worldwide to pre-pandemic levels, with the poorest countries faring worst.
Greater government reliance on consulting companies has greatly enriched them while also undermining state capacities, capabilities, national economies, progress, governance and legitimacy.
The Netherlands is the latest country to lurch to the right amid the global cost of living crisis. Its November election saw maverick far-right populist Geert Wilders and his Party for Freedom (PVV) come first. A hardline Islamophobe who’s called for the Quran to be banned could be the next prime minister.
In the wee hours of one morning in early November, Ernesto, 50, swallowed several glasses of a cocktail of drugs and alcohol in the apartment where he lived alone in the Venezuelan capital, ending a life tormented by declining health and lack of resources to cope as he would have liked.
For many of Argentina’s voters the choice on 19 November was between the lesser of two evils: Sergio Massa, the minister overseeing an economy with the world’s third-highest inflation rate, or Javier Milei, an erratic far-right libertarian outsider promising to shut down the Central Bank, adopt the US dollar as the currency, cut taxes and privatise public services.
In recent decades, failure to sustain economic progress has been blamed on a supposed middle-income country (MIC) trap. Such blaming obscures as much as it supposedly explains.
People in Argentina have become accustomed to the fact that nothing costs the same today as it did the week before and they take price hikes in stride with resignation, says Mariano Cohen. "Almost nobody gets angry or complains anymore. They just don't buy something if they can't afford it," he explains in his disposable goods store in Villa Crespo, one of Buenos Aires' most commercial neighborhoods.
For many of Argentina’s voters the choice in the 19 November presidential runoff is between the lesser of two evils: Sergio Massa, economy minister of a government that’s presiding over a once-in-a-generation economic meltdown with a whopping 140-per cent inflation rate, or Javier Milei, a far-right libertarian who admires Donald Trump, wants to shut down the Central Bank and wields a chainsaw in public as a symbol of his willingness to slash the state. Many will rue that it ever came to this.
Hemmed in by poverty, with barely two days of school a week, and often at risk of unwanted pregnancy or the uncertain prospect of emigration, young women and adolescents are among the main victims of the ongoing crisis in Venezuela.
Diego has just enrolled to study journalism at a university in the Venezuelan capital and, with 2,000 dollars that his family members managed to gather, has bought his first car, a small 2007 Ford that can take him to class from his home in the neighboring Caribbean port city of La Guaira.
It’s a rapid reversal for New Zealand’s Labour Party, in power for six years. At the last election
in 2020 it won an outright majority, the first party to do so under the current voting system. But three years on, it’s finished a distant second in the election held on 14 October. The result speaks to a broader pattern seen amid economic strife in many countries – of intense political volatility and the rejection of incumbents.
They do not have a pension nor financial support from families or relatives, but they have themselves. Now they have become collectors of plastic waste, which they turn into products as they battle for survival - earning money from the growing plastic pollution in Zimbabwe.
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are returning to Africa, for the first time in decades, with the “same old failed message”.
“Cut your spending, sack public service workers, and pay your debts-- despite the huge human costs,” says Oxfam International’s interim Executive Director Amitabh Behar, following the release of new Oxfam report.
Ajay Banga was anointed World Bank president for promoting financial inclusion. Thanks to its success and interest rate hikes, more poor people are drowning in debt as consumer prices rise.
Gladys swore she would not cry in front of her small children, but she still had to wipe away a couple of tears when she turned her head and looked, perhaps for the last time, at her dream house on Margarita Island in Venezuela, from where she migrated, driven by a lack of income and by fear.
In today's increasingly interconnected world, marked by grave economic, environmental, and security crises that transcend global boundaries, it's abundantly clear that our interdependence is an undeniable reality.