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MY TAKE ON ECONOMIC & POLITICAL EVENTS OF THE PAST WEEK:

1. Critical Hour Radio (January 27, 2023)

(Latest US GDP Figures; How $8T fiscal-monetary stimulus of 2020-21 produced a no growth economy in 2022; Debt Ceiling cover for attack on social security;

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1LqQk7Eo4l3F0lN5T55moaGQiV1FhHIT5/view

2. Critical Hour Radio (January 20, 2023)

(Latest US Jobs Numbers; Chip Tech war with China; Inflation-Demand v Supply Side; Fed interest rates; Social Security )

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Y_lFiFO8qANECRxaGqrWyow1d7LfoDSP/view

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Today’s Posting contains both a Text and an Audio version of the topic: ‘Long-Term Trends in the Era of Neoliberal Capitalism Decline’

A link to the Alternative Visions Radio Show presentation on the topic on Friday, January 20, 2023, follows first this introduction.

The Text version follows thereafter. Both Text and Audio versions discuss the main long term trends of US & global capitalism over the past 4 decades that in part are determining the current growing crisis of the global capitalist economy now occurring as a consequence of the converging of conditions from three events: the chronic slow growth of the decade 2010-19 following the great recession and financial crash of 2007-10; the structural changes wrought by the Covid crash; and the restructuring of the global economy occurring as a consequence of the Ukraine war, sanctions, and instability of global goods and money flows. Both the audio and text text versions address the trends of chronic high inflation, growing recession, rising interest rates, failure of traditional fiscal-monetary policies, global currency volatility and financial markets fragility, destabilizing technological change upending labor markets, global supply chain problems due to war, sanctions, and US efforts to bifurcate the global economy. Overlaid on these key economic trends are geopolitical trends of an increasingly aggressive and violent US empire pre-emptively targeting challengers Russia and China as well as rising domestic political instability in many countries worldwide.

To listen to the Hour-Long Alternative Visions RADIO SHOW VERSION following the text version GO TO:

https://alternativevisions.podbean.com/e/alternative-visions-long-term-global-trends-in-the-era-of-neoliberal-capitalism-decline/

TEXT VERSION: Long Term Trends in the Era of Neoliberal Capitalism Decline

The global capitalist economy is at an historical juncture.  The global economic restructuring that began roughly four decades ago—often associated with the term Neoliberalism—has run its course.

Centered in the American-Anglo economies in the late 1970s—thereafter spreading to a degree to other advanced capitalist economies—the Neoliberal restructuring occurred as a response to the global economic crisis of the 1970s.

Neoliberal restructuring sought, and largely succeeded, in reordering inter-class economic relations domestically between capital and labor within the advanced capitalist economies—the US and UK in particular—as well as between national capitalist classes globally.  Thus Neoliberalism re-established the dominance of Capital over Labor and popular movements at home, while especially strengthening the hegemony of US capital over its capitalist competitors abroad.

These relative class relations expanded and deepened, largely to the benefit of US capitalists, over the next three decades from 1979 to 2008. Neoliberal restructuring is thus best understood as a class-based form of Imperialism—and not as a form of ‘globalization’, a term which obfuscates the essential class-based (intra and inter) imperialist nature of the Neoliberal regime and its unique new historical mix of fiscal, monetary, industrial, and external (trade/currency) policies.

During its expansion, however, contradictions associated with the specific policy mix and class relations of Neoliberalism grew.  The contradictions intensified after 2000, coming to in a visible eruption in what has been identified as the global financial and economic crisis (aka Great Recession) of 2008-10 in the US, of 2008-15 in Europe and Japan, and in other near-advanced capitalist economies at different times between 2008-15.

The decade that followed the eruption of the crisis in 2008 was characterized by chronic slow rates of real growth compared to the prior decades; growing debt levels (sovereign, corporate & household) and debt-servicing problems; a widening shift toward financial asset investment relative to real asset investment; global trade wars and inter-capitalist competition; growing  income and wealth inequality between classes; intensifying exploitation of working classes and weakening of working class unions and parties; and a decline in the efficiency and effectiveness of traditional monetary, fiscal, and other economic policy ‘tools’ in stabilizing and growing the economy.

Halting the weak and uneven global recovery of 2010-19, the subsequent global Covid health crisis and deep recession of 2020-21 created in turn additional contradictions. Then, just as an unstable reopening and recovery of the global economy began in late 2021, a new shock to the global system was launched by US/NATO in the form of the provocation of war in Ukraine, related US/G7 economic sanctions on Russia and its economic partners, along with a major restructuring of global supply chains, goods trade and money capital flows.

The global capitalist economy has yet to realize the full consequences of its slow recovery post-2010, the immediately subsequent Covid economic crash, and the shock to global capitalist trade and finance relations that occurred in 2022 in the form of war and sanctions.

Some Key Longer Term Economic Trends

To place in context the current juncture of the global capitalist economy, it is necessary to understand some of the more important Capitalist trends and conditions of the past four decades. These trends include:

  1. Global capitalism never fully recovered from the Great Recession that erupted in 2008. In the advanced capitalist economies in particular real annual GDP growth was roughly half the average growth of the preceding quarter century, 1982-2007. Growth post-2008 was characterized by repeated short, shallow recessions followed by weak, partial economic recoveries.
  2. The decade 2010-19 was quickly followed by the deeper Covid precipitated global economic shutdowns—occurring from March 2020 to April 2022 in the G7 economies and until December 2022 in China. The Covid economic crisis in turn resulted in major structural changes in product and labor markets globally, further restraining long term economic recovery while simultaneously generating inflationary pressures not seen since the final stage of the crisis of the 1970s.
  3. During the post-2008-10 period and the Covid crisis overlay, it has become increasingly evident that Capitalism’s traditional economic tools (fiscal, monetary and trade/currency exchange rate policies) for stabilizing business cycles and ensuring financial stability have become progressively less efficient in achieving their official targets. Inefficiency in this regard refers to the condition that it takes a greater amount of fiscal-monetary stimulus to generate a smaller positive response in economic growth over time; and, conversely, a greater amount of fiscal-monetary contraction is required to generate slower rate of inflation. In short, the Covid crisis and recession of 2020-21 further exacerbated the growing inefficiency of fiscal-monetary policy responses.  So too has the subsequent shock of war and sanctions that commenced in 2022 and the apparent objective of US/G7 to bifurcate the global economy goods and money flows.
  4. Capitalism has become increasingly financialized during the Neoliberal era (1979-2022), shifting in relative terms toward financial asset investing—i.e. creating money capital profits—at the expense of real asset investing that creates goods & services that produces jobs, real income, and profits from non-financial activity. The financialization of global capital has spawned an accelerating array of new forms of financial instruments, new financial institutions to buy and sell those instruments, and a new economically and politically powerful global finance capital elite as the agents behind it. Financialization results in the crowding out real investment in goods and services by diverting money capital to financial asset markets (stocks, bonds, forex, derivatives, etc.).
  5. Technological change is becoming the pre-eminent ‘Force of Production’ in late 20th century-early 21st century capitalism. It has enabled the global financialization, launched new product lines, begun replacing fiat money with digital, and has radically changed economic relations at work to the detriment of working classes by enabling widespread precarious employment, gig work and, most recently, what will be the displacement of tens of millions more workers who have been engaged in simple decision making occupations. Software machines capable of self-maintenance, self- educating, communicating in natural language, and reproducing themselves will displace decision making by human labor. By 2030 no less than 30% of all occupations world wide will be negatively impacted.
  6. Capitalist exploitation of the working class has been intensifying, expanding both traditional as well as new forms of labor exploitation. Traditional forms of exploitation have been intensifying. So too have forms of secondary exploitation as capitalists develop new ways to claim and take back wages previously paid. Real wages are compressed over time and the average standard of living reduced. The magnitude of the income transferred from labor to capital in the US alone is reflected in Fortune 500 corporations returning to their shareholders from 2010 through 2019 an amount of no less than $15 trillion in stock buybacks and dividend payouts.
  7. The chronic slower growth trend post-2008, the bouts of financial markets instability, and the multiple recessions—moderate and deep—have weakened the hegemony of US imperialism. As more national economies seek economic independence or dare challenge that hegemony, US elites have responded increasingly aggressively and violently—engaging in domestic political destabilization of regimes, employing direct asset seizures, economic and other sanctions, and initiating wars either directly or by proxy. These responses by US imperialists are resulting in further drag on global economic growth and are destabilizing global trade and currency flows.
  8. As the global capitalist system has become more unstable economically, political instability has followed in turn—both within and between capitalist nation states. Rightward shift in political parties, movements, media, and capitalist states’ governments are occurring in more countries world-wide. Democratic political relations are deteriorating. Forms of even limited capitalist democracy are increasingly less tolerated by elites and are being neutralized or removed. As the Neoliberal economic order unravels, so too do the social and political relations based upon it.

An Economic ‘Snapshot’ of the Global Economy 2022-2023

The preceding longer term secular changes in Capitalism have all impacted the current economic condition in myriad ways.  But if one were to take an ‘economic snapshot’ of the current global economy—in the USA, as well as of other major economies in Europe, Japan, China, and in select emerging market economies like India, Middle East, Latin America, etc.—some of the defining characteristics of the global economy at the present juncture would be:

Inflation: Supply Forces & Geo-Politics To Continue Driving Prices

The global economy experienced a surge in global inflation in 2021-22. It will continue to experience relatively high inflation rates for the foreseeable future. That’s because inflation is predominantly supply driven, not due to excess demand.

A sizeable capitalist policy wing has argued it was excess demand flowing from over-generous economic relief programs for households that has caused inflation. However, payments to households were mostly spent by early 2022. And by mid-2022 the general savings rate had fallen to 2.5% in the USA, compared to a pre-Covid rate double that. So the argument that too much income supplement drove up consumer demand and prices is not supported. The same erroneous logic applies to wage incomes.  It was not wage hikes but the reopening of the US economy in early spring 2022 that contributed to demand inflation.

Notwithstanding the contribution of reopening the economy and income supplement payments during Covid, Demand driven inflation is responsible for no more than a third, or 40% at most, of the total rise in prices. That is especially true for the USA economy. For European households Demand has probably contributed less to the general price level and Supply forces relatively more than in the US. For emerging market economies, Demand even less and Supply more so.

The most obvious Supply force driving inflation has been the effect of the Ukraine war and US/G7 sanctions on Russian oil, natural gas, and other chemical product exports that occurred throughout much of 2022.  Rising energy prices due to war and sanctions has hit Europe especially hard, unlike in the USA where its economy sits on a glut of excess crude oil supply. As Russia has been driven out of energy (and commodities) markets in Europe as a result f US/G7 sanctions, the USA has filled much of the EU’s shortfall—but at a significantly higher cost and therefore price.

Exacerbating the effect of war and sanctions, however, has been capitalist speculators who have been driving up energy prices in oil and gas futures markets even before the actual supply cuts began to appear.

The same war + sanctions + futures markets speculators effect has occurred with industrial and agricultural commodities produced by Russia as well. Metals like Nickel and Palladium used in car assembly and fertilizer and grains also produced by Russia have reduced supply, resulting in global supply side inflation for industrial and agricultural commodities as well.

Global supply chain breakdowns associated with the Covid shutdowns continue to contribute goods inflation, albeit not as intensely as in 2021 or 2022. Long term effects of the Covid shutdowns also contributed to supply chain problems within domestic economies, especially in the transport and labor markets, and continue to do so despite their partial easing.

Apart from war, sanctions, supply chain disruption, commodities speculation, yet another supply side contributor to inflation has been monopolistic corporations simply price gouging. Hiding behind the public narratives of inflation due to other causes, big corporations in industries with few producers—i.e. monopolistic producers—have exploited the cover and raised prices simply because they can. Especially aggressive have been the oil and energy companies, food processing companies, meatpacking companies, institutional rental property owners.

Yet another factor still driving up prices further has been the collapse of productivity and the corresponding rise in business unit labor costs. As unit labor costs rise due to productivity declining, many companies have no option but to pass on the costs in higher prices for their goods or services—whether they have monopolistic price power or not.

These supply side forces driving inflation have been even more intensified in Europe, the UK, and other economies.  Not only have supply shortages in energy played a relatively larger role in inflation in Europe and emerging economies compared to the US, but devaluation of the former countries’ currencies, which was severe in 2022, contributed further to rising prices.

The currency exchange rate factor is one of the biggest causes for relatively higher prices in Europe, Japan and elsewhere compared to the US. Whereas a rising US dollar actually contributes to reducing inflation from imports in the US, it exacerbates import, and thus general, inflation in Europe and beyond. At one point the Euro fell 20% to the US dollar, as well as the UK pound and Japanese Yen. So to the extent the US dollar sharply appreciated in 2021-22, the Euro, Yen, Pound and other emerging market economies’ currencies sharply devalued and fell. As a consequence their import prices rose in turn driving up their general price level. In other words, a good part of the inflation outside the USA has been due to the rise in the value of the US dollar—which in turn has been largely due to US central bank monetary policy raising interest rates. More on that shortly.

The combination of the US policy of sanctions and the appreciation of the US dollar have amounted to a de facto export of inflation from the USA to Europe. The same dynamic applies to Japan and other emerging market economies. The dollar appreciation role is a direct consequence of US monetary policy and its central bank, the Federal Reserve, raising US interest rates.

Monetary Policy: Central Banks Raising Rates to Crush Demand

The US central bank, the Federal Reserve (aka the ‘Fed’), has been raising rates at a rapid pace since March 2022, to almost 5% from near zero (and less than zero when adjusted for inflation). The Fed’s chair, Jerome Powell, has admitted he can do little about supply inflation. All the Fed can do is depress consumer demand by creating more unemployment (and thus less wage income for consumption) by raising rates high enough to force businesses to lower production and lay off workers. In 1981-82 the Fed implemented the same policy by raising rates to 16%, causing a virtual shutdown of the housing and auto industries, mass layoffs, and households’ consumer spending collapse.

But the USA and global economies have changed since 1981-82.  Rate hikes less than half of that would provoke deep financial instability and a likely crash.  That is one of the many contradictions the financialization of the global capitalist economy has created.  The Fed will have to stop raising rates much beyond 5-5.5% to avoid financial instability and that in turn means the Fed will only partially be able to shake out Demand inflation, let alone have no effect on Supply driven inflation.  Inflation therefore may only disinflate (decline) to around a 4% rate and not achieve the Fed’s announced 2% rate target.

Just as by appreciating the value of the US dollar the US in effect ‘exports’ its inflation, so too by the Fed raising interest rates it ‘exports’ US unemployment to other economies. To protect the value of their currencies from falling, other countries raise their interest rates when the Fed does. However, by raising their own interest rates in their domestic economy they slow down the growth of their economy, leading to lay offs and unemployment. Throughout 2022, as the Fed accelerated its interest rate hikes, Europe, the UK, and other central banks were forced to follow the USA Fed and raise their rates—to protect their currencies from devaluing (and stoking imports inflation),  but in the process pushed their economies further into recession due to their rate hikes.

The one G7 country and economy that has been resisting following the Fed in hiking rates has been Japan.  With virtually no economic growth for years and three recessions since 2010, Japan has bet decided not to raise rates to avoid another deep recession. But this choice has resulted in Japan’s currency, the Yen, falling sharply against the US dollar. And that has meant Japan has had to pay a significantly higher price for imported energy and commodities which are all bought and sold only in $dollars (another important support for the US global economic empire). But that was Japan in 2022. It will succumb to the Fed’s rate hikes and the Bank of Japan will eventually raise its rates as well to keep its currency, the Yen, from collapsing further.

Fiscal Policy: Governments Shifting to Subsidizing Corporate Investment & Defense

Political elites and policy makers could have chosen to slow inflation by raising taxes and reducing spending on big budget items like defense & war spending. However, they are doubling down and accelerating defense/war spending while continuing to refuse to raise taxes.

The Ukraine war has been a major source of escalation of US war spending.  In 2022 the US provided $111B in aid to the Ukraine effort. Another $45B was added in Biden’s 2023 US budget of $1.7 trillion at the end of 2022. The Pentagon’s share of that $1.7T will amount to $853 billion. Another $200-$250 billion in US defense spending, apart from the Pentagon, is distributed in other US agencies: the Energy Dept, Atomic energy commission, Veterans Dept., CIA & NSA mercenaries support & intelligence activities, US Homeland Security, and defense spending’s share of growing interest on the government’s national debt. There is also the ‘off budget’ spending that doesn’t get reported publicly for US next generation and secret weapons development. That’s another minimum $50 billion a year. Total US ‘defense’ spending annually is therefore around $1.1 to $1.2 trillion every year, or roughly 60-65% of US federal government’s annual spending of $1.7 trillion.

Beginning in 2021 fiscal policy focus was beginning to shift from Covid relief social programs to more defense spending in the US.  Covid related social spending programs were rolled back and discontinued starting the summer of 2021 and were fundamentally ended with the defeat of the Build Back Better bill in Congress in November 2021.  In their place Congress and the Biden administration passed three Acts in 2022 which together represent a major shift in US spending from Covid relief to business investment subsidy: the Infrastructure Act, the Semiconductor (Chip) and Manufacturing modernization Act and the misnamed Inflation Reduction Act. These three Acts provided at minimum $1.3 trillion in subsidies to corporate America. Some of that funding came from funds authorized for Covid & health based social programs that was not yet spent by 2022. In addition to subsidizing business investment, the US provided $111 billion in aid to Ukraine to conduct its war. Another $45 billion in defense spending was added at year’s end 2022 for Ukraine war spending.

In Europe and Japan the shift from relief to war spending & business investment subsidization began as well. Major government rescue funds established during Covid that were unspent were subsequently redirected to energy subsidies, for both business and households. Following the US fiscal lead, Europe defense spending escalated in 2022 and is scheduled for record further increases in 2023. Reportedly, Germany alone plans to double its defense spending as it marches along with US/NATO to focus on arms procurement in the wake of the continuing Ukraine war. East European countries (with whom the USA now virtually dominates NATO) are also seeking credits from the US to purchase latest generation US weaponry, having already given its Soviet era inventory to Ukraine.

In Japan the shift to war spending is even more dramatic. It announced plans to spend $320 billion more on weapons over the next five years, making it the third largest global spender on military arms. Japan clearly has been given a ‘green light’ by the USA to re-militarize and to play a bigger role in preparation for USA possible future military conflict with China over Taiwan and the South China sea islands.  In the Asia region elsewhere, military spending is also on the rise in Australia and New Zealand and discussions are underway between US and South Korea to boost mutual defense spending.

In summary, throughout the US/G7 and even G20 there is a clear major shift downsizing—and even discontinuing—from fiscal spending on health, Covid relief, and social program support and toward defense and war preparation spending. This fiscal shift will continue in 2023.

Global Economy Drifting Further toward Recession

The global economy is steadily drifting into recession. Official forecasts by the IMF, World Bank, business and bank research departments, central banks or other sources, nearly all now predict recession in 2023 even if they avoided admitting it in 2022.

In the USA, key sectors like housing, technology, and now manufacturing indicate the USA economy is either already in, or sliding  faster toward, recession. Autos and other goods producing sectors are about to follow housing and technology in contraction.  Real retail sales are flat.  US export production and sales are slowing. Only government spending on defense and select sectors of business investment are still growing. In Europe, Germany just experienced one of its largest contractions on recent record in goods production and future orders. Britain entered recession late last year.  Other European economies will likely soon follow.  In Asia, Japan’s projected growth is at best stagnant for 2023—if it doesn’t raise rates. Recession again if it does.

Much speculation has recently surrounded whether China’s reversal of its zero Covid policy will result in a return to economic growth.  Most estimates of China GDP for 2022 growth are at best around 2-3%. Many US economist believe China’s shift from zero Covid and rapid reopening now underway will lead to significantly higher growth rates. They’re betting China growth in 2023 will offset recessionary pressures elsewhere in the world. China recovery will prevent a global recession, they argue. But China’s Covid health issues given its reopening may prove more severe than projected and result in a dampening of consumer demand in turn creating a drag on growth.  In addition, China’s production for exports, it’s largest sector contributing to GDP, may be slowed by global recession and declining demand for China goods as the US, Europe, Japan and other countries slip into recession in 2023. There’s also the problem of China’s property markets. Government support for China’s failing property/housing sector is on the rise once again. However, it may not prove sufficient to prevent financial crisis in that also important GDP sector which would also result in slower real growth. China’s ‘reopening’ will almost certainly also result in a sharp rise in global demand for commodities, and therefore global price of those commodities.

Financial Markets Fragility & Instability Rising

Beneath the surface of the preceding trends in the real global economy financial sector fragility has been rising and will continue to do so as recession occurs and/or if interest rates rise. ‘Fragility’ means the growing propensity for failure of economic units—be they business, banks, government entities or households—to be able to service (pay for) the interest and principal on their debt. Massive debt increases of the past decade in all categories—government, corporate, households–has raised that potential fragility.  Fragility grows until it results in defaults.  Defaults lead to financial asset price collapse and bankruptcies. Contagion effects exacerbate the problem until a financial crash occurs in one or more markets or is generalized across markets.  Financial fragility and potential financial instability is also a defining characteristic of the current state of the global economy.

The weakest link today is the cryptocurrency markets where defaults and bankruptcies are underway. In the USA certain industries and ‘zombie’ companies that became overloaded on high interest ‘junk’ (high yield corporate bond) debt during Covid and before are defaulting or approaching default as interest rates rise and the economy slows. US banks are doubling their reserve funds to cover expected defaults & bankruptcies  In Europe, a locus of rising financial fragility is the bank, Credit Suisse, and other UK financial institutions. In the USA and globally, price deflation in housing markets, about to accelerate, will produce bankruptcies in housing related assets (like REITS in the USA). Other highly speculative and thus debt leveraged financial markets exposed to CLOs and SPACs are also potential candidates for financial instability. In China, its local property investment vehicles and property companies like Evergrande and its competitors still remain fragile and may experience further instability (although China government will certainly step in early to attempt to prevent it). Not least, a number of key emerging market countries now face a dual dilemma: many of their private corporations are exposed to dollarized corporate bonds and governments’ sovereign debt servicing in some emerging market economies is an increasingly severe issue as well.  Should US interest rates and the value of the US dollar continue to rise in 2023, both the private dollarized corporate bond market and sovereign debt markets face likely default problems.

Ukraine War Intensification

The Ukraine war loomed large over the global economy in 2022.In 2023 it will continue to do so, and have an even greater effect on the world economy and global political instability.  The War will thus continue, likely even more violently than in 2022 come spring 2023 as both Russia and Ukraine have new offensives planned.

The US/G7 sanctions on Russia will continue to destabilize global trade. The war and sanctions will also continue to drive up global industrial commodities prices. And as China reopens energy and commodity prices will likely rise still further.  Grain export and fertilizer prices—and the consequent food insecurity—will worsen in emerging markets economies.

Further direct involvement by US/G7/NATO forces on the side of Ukraine can be expected should Russia’s coming offensive not succeed. Conversely, should Russia’s offensive prevail, then destabilization on Russia’s periphery is likely as US/NATO attempt to create multiple fronts elsewhere—in former USSR central Asia republics (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzistan), in Moldova, or even in the Baltics-Poland border region with Belarus. The US/G7 costs of the war will rise further and may exceed a combined $200 billion in aid in 2023. US/NATO sanctions on Russia will continue to disrupt global trade as the US tries to bifurcate world trade to isolate Russia. A similar US sanctions policy targeting China tech development will also negatively impact global trade.

In short, the war in Ukraine and US tech policy toward China will become even more economically destabilizing for various economies worldwide in 2023.

Domestic Political Instability Growing

There are direct causal connections between the multiple economic crises and rising political instability.

Covid was (is?) not just a health crisis but an economic and political crisis.  The US/G7 did not do a particularly good job containing and reducing the virus even in their own countries. In the USA alone officially more than a million died and probably far more. The number will never be known since the Biden administration has halted gathering of most information related to Covid illnesses.  Outside the US and G7, where even vaccines were mostly unavailable, no doubt many millions more perished. Very little in the way of financial aid, vaccines or medical equipment ever materialized in the majority of countries outside the G7. The response of political elites in general was initially too slow, followed by an exit too early. The managing of the Covid crisis has clearly intensified political discontent, while economically it fundamentally changed market dynamics in a number of sectors—most notably transport and labor markets. Deep resentments among general populace in many countries over how the Covid response was managed lingers.

Reopening the global economy in late 2021-2022 after the Covid shutdowns also resulted in a slow and intermittent economic recovery. With a fiscal-monetary stimulus of around $8 trillion in the US alone for 2020-22, it is remarkable how little an ‘economic bang for the buck’ was achieved in real economic growth for that record spending and lending by Congress and the Fed. Covid also inaugurated the worst inflation in more than four decades. This too has contributed to current political resentment.

Almost immediately overlaid on the economic and political impact of Covid and its management was the shock of the Ukraine war, the related US/G7 sanctions, and the restructuring of global trade and money capital flows that is now underway. Political unrest with all the above was quickly added to the discontent over the way the Covid health crisis was handled.

The slow economic recovery, accelerating inflation worldwide, global food shortages related to war supply chain disruption, US sanctions policies, shredding of social safety nets as social program spending was reduced, and collapsing of currencies due to US monetary response has created mass discontent. Much of it resides still below the surface. However, growing signs are everywhere of the discontent breaking through into mass protests, demonstrations, and other forms of rebellion.

In Europe the domestic political instability is most evident in Britain. Political elites are fractured. Strikes are growing. Defections from mainstream parties are evident. Polls show deep distrust of political leadership. Policy responses to the crisis appear ineffective. The UK is a worst case scenario but may also be a harbinger of things to come. Elsewhere in Europe, protests are growing and some parliamentary governments have, or are about to, fall.

In Latin America, the political instability resulting from the health and economic crises has risen sharply in the Andean nations of Ecuador and Peru with violent street protests and transparent coup d’etat action by political elites and their economic supporters continue daily in those countries.  In Brazil, the recent assault on government institutions (and the Lula presidency) now underway portends continued clashes between Right and Left in that country, raising the question will the military and courts take action against the new Lula government of Lula once again, as they have before?

In Iran demonstrations continue after many months while becoming increasingly violent. Pakistan internal political instability continues.  Popular discontent on a national scale over its zero Covid policy forced China’s political leadership recently to reverse itself or else deal with widespread street protests and confrontations with government forces.

Albeit contained at an institutional level, in the USA political instability is about to rise once again as well with the ascendance of the Republican party in the US House of Representatives and the latest moves by the radical right wing faction in that party. In its first victory that Right successfully dictated terms the new Republican Speaker of the House must follow or be immediately removed. Radical right policies will now flow from the new Republican House majority.  And those policies will be increasingly confrontational with the Biden regime. The House’s agenda in 2023 will focus on hearings targeting Biden’s role in Ukraine and China while Vice President, the origins of the Covid pandemic, US immigration failures at its southern border, Biden’s son’s laptop, and similar intra political elite ‘food fights’.

In short, as the fallout from the Covid shutdowns continues; as the real economy struggles to recover; as inflation, interest rate hikes, currency instability remain chronic problems; as social safety nets continue to unravel; and as the Ukraine war and its global economic impacts worsen the combined effects will give rise to political instability at both an electoral and street level.

Some General Conclusions

The joint picture the preceding longer term trends and current conditions reveal is that more economic and political instability will occur in 2023-24 in the global economy.  None of the conditions are apt to go away in the short run. Some may abate in their effect but all will continue to destabilize the global economy and the political situation in many countries.

The contradictions associated with the late stage of the Neoliberal order will continue to intensify.  More immediately, inflation may abate some but remain high. The global economy will continue to slip into recession.  The effects and disruptions associated with the Covid health crisis linger. And the war in Ukraine will intensify, evolve into a more vicious conflict, and draw the US/NATO closer into direct conflict with Russia should a Russian spring offensive turn out successful. It will be a turbulent ride for at least the next five to seven years.

Having reviewed the key long term trends of the global capitalist economy, and addressed some of the immediate conditions in this junctural phase, it is perhaps worth commenting briefly in closing on some of the very long run contradictions the system faces.

Against the longer term trends and immediate conditions, three great challenges to the global capitalist system will continue to develop.  These three existential challenges are:  an accelerating climate crisis. It does not appear the system will be capable of preventing a climate ‘tipping point’ which appears is coming closer over time. The second great challenge is the sharp increase that will occur by 2030 in the number of workers unemployed worldwide as the next generation of technologies, already emerging, devastates 30% of the world’s occupations. Those technologies will generate unemployment and loss of hours worked on a scale not yet seen under capitalism. The third challenge is that the US empire continues to become more aggressive and violent as it finds itself increasingly challenged by China, Russia and other economies intent on breaking from that economic empire and charting a more independent course.  The events of Ukraine today may be a harbinger of more risky military adventures to come by the American empire’s current political elites.  And with those adventures arrive the potential for a nuclear exchange.

The three existential challenges to global capitalism are not likely to be overcome.  For that reason I do not believe global capitalism as we know it today will survive beyond the mid-21st century.

(NOTE: A video file of this presentation, delivered to the 28th annual Rosa Luxemburg Conference held in Berlin this past January 14, will appear on the website of the conference’s sponsoring organization, https://Jungewelt.de)

Listen to my latest update interview and analysis of the Ukraine War, the US basic strategy targeting Russia, and the beginning bifurcating of the global economy by American Imperialism to ring fence Russia and China. To listen to the 20 min interview, GO TO:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1aLTcGNX2KOK1Tpr8rDUc4OX2nkt9rOJ0/view

(Note: This is reposting of the correct link to this interview)

In my latest Alternative Visions radio show, and as a follow up to the preceding show that reviewed economic & political events of 2022, I made my annual predictions for the year ahead, 2023.

TO LISTEN GO TO:

https://alternativevisions.podbean.com/e/alternative-visions-predictions-for-2023-us-globaleconomic-political/

SHOW ANNOUNCEMENT

Dr. Rasmus follows up last week’s Alternative Visions show on a review of economic & political events in 2022 with today’s show’s predictions for 2023. Included are what’s next for the USA with regard to inflation, recession, fiscal-monetary and trade policy shifts, and potential for financial instability. And on the political scene what’s likely to occur with the USA’s proxy war in Ukraine, tech trade war with China, the situation with Taiwan, and domestically the super-gridlock likely in Congress. Rasmus then predicts important economic and political developments likely to occur in Europe, the UK, China, Japan, Middle East (Saudi, Iran, Syria, Israel) and Latin America (especially Ecuador-Peru, Argentina and Brazil).

As in previous years, today’s Alternative Visions radio show, the last of 2022, presents a summary and analysis of the most important economic and political events of 2022–for both the USA and Global. 2022 has been a junctural year, with likely worse to come in 2023 in terms of economic slowdown as well as war and political instability.

TO LISTEN GO TO:

https://alternativevisions.podbean.com/e/alternative-visions-year-end-2022-review-usa-global-economy-politics/

SHOW ANNOUNCEMENT

Today’s show provides a review of the main events and developments for the USA and global economies—as well a review of the major political events of the past year. Included are: US, Europe and other economies’ central bank (interest rate hike) policy shifts and their effects; the global currency crises unleashed; USA fiscal policy shift from Covid relief to subsidizing corporate investment Acts (Infrastructure, Chip & Inflation Reduction trio acts); sanctions on Russia & Ukraine; China Covid policy shift; escalating US-Europe-Japan war spending; and the continuing slide into recession in the US & G7 economies. Political analysis focuses on the developments in the Ukraine war; US midterm elections; US attempts to provoke China over Taiwan; and the US January 6 political theater and refusal by Biden administration to indict Trump. (Next week’s show will address Predictions for 2023: Economic and Political. So tune in)

The US central bank, the Federal Reserve, made its most recent rate hike in December raising rates another 50 basis pts (.5 of 1%) after four consecutive 75 basis pts hikes in 2022, pushing its ‘benchmark’ policy rate over 4%. Does the slower rate hike pace mean the Fed will soon stop raising rates (as many stock market investors believe)? Or will Fed chair Powell keep raising rates in 2023 as high as necessary to meet 2% inflation goal (i.e. will the ‘terminal’ interest rate rise much higher, beyond 5%). What are the implications of Fed rate hikes for US and global economy in 2023? Can the Fed attain its 2% inflation goal? How deeper will it drive the US recession in 2023? What’s the consequence for global currencies instability, global inflation and recession?

Listen to my December 15 Alternative Visions radio show for the in depth discussion of this important topic for recession and inflation in 2023, US and global. GO TO:

https://alternativevisions.podbean.com/e/alternative-visions-fed-turns-more-hawkish-warns-higher-rates-recession-coming/

SHOW ANNOUNCEMENT:

This past week’s Federal Reserve latest rate hike forewarns financial market investors in no uncertain terms the Fed is prepared to raise rates further, longer and higher in order to reduce inflation in 2023, even if it means more likely and deeper recession. Dr. Rasmus reviews the statements of Fed chair Powell and debunks the Fed’s forecast for inflation and (GDP) in 2023. Fed plans to raise base interest rates to 5.1% in 2023, reducing CPI prices to around 4% (vs. 7-8% so far) while slowing the real economy to only 0.5% and unemployment of 4.6%for 2023. Rasmus explains why 2023 will witness more than 5.1% rate hikes, a deeper recession than 0.5%, and more unemployment than 4.6%. Fed chair Powell’s latest press conference focus was twofold: 1. Telling investors get ready for rates to go higher and longer, 2) show Fed’s plan to attack wages & reduce spending on core services by generating more layoffs. Rasmus reviews follow on central bank rate hikes in Europe, Japan and explains how rising US dollar and geopolitical policies are responsible for Europe’s even greater inflation and deeper recession.

By Jack Rasmus
Copyright 2022

Probably the most important US labor event of 2022 has been the 115,000 US railroad workers and their unions attempt to bargain a new contract with the super profitable Railroad companies. As of December 2, 2022, however, that negotiations has not turned out well for the workers. The US government—the Biden administration and Democrat controlled US Congress with the help of virtually all the Republicans—have repeatedly intervened on the side of the management in the negotiations.

Beginning last September, that intervention has ensured that the workers would not be able to strike in order to advance their interests and demands. This past week both the administration and Congress have made a railroad strike illegal by passing legislation to that effect.

The right of workers to strike has been under attack at least since 1947 when Congress passed what was called the ‘Taft-Hartley’ Act that year. That legislation ensured that government and politicians reserved the right to force workers back to work for 90 days in the event contract negotiations failed and a strike was imminent. During a 90 day ‘cooling off’ period, as it was called, government mediators had the opportunity to join the negotiations, try to browbeat the parties to get them to settle, and to make a recommendation as to the terms of a settlement. During the ‘cooling off’ management of course also had 90 more days to prepare to prepare to defeat a strike once the 90 days was up.

Taft-Hartley limited the right to strike in many other ways as well. It prohibited sympathy strikes by unions. That’s where unions go on strike to support workers in other unions already on strike.  The 1947 law also required any union about to negotiate, and potentially later to strike, to notify the federal government and give it a ‘heads up’ of the pending bargaining and potential strike. A special government body, the Federal Mediation Service, was established to allow government direct intervention in negotiations thereafter if it so decided. Taft-Hartley also embedded in legislation prior anti-strike court decisions, including a Supreme Court decision prior to 1947 that ruled workers could no longer legally engage in what were successful ‘sit down’ strikes of the 1930s and early 1940s.

The 1947 Taft-Hartley Act and its many anti-Labor provisions was patterned after the earlier anti-union, anti-strike Railway Labor Act in 1926 that targeted the railroad workers and their unions.

After 1926 and 1947 the right to strike was further curtailed by Congressional legislation and court action. Secondary boycotts (refusal to handle struck goods of another company) were outlawed. Courts would rule that union contract clauses in their agreements giving them the ‘right to strike over grievances’ were null and void if there was a grievance procedure spelled out in the union contract. Picketing at company gates in a strike were limited to just a few to each gate. If workers struck a company to force it to recognize the union and bargain, management could call for a government run union recognition election to end the strike and then drag out the union election process three to nine months in order to give the company time to stockpile inventory and make other preparations. Management could hire permanent replacements when union workers went on strike. Unions could no longer act in solidarity with workers in other unions by refusing to handle the goods shipped by the company and workers on strike (called ‘hot cargo’ prohibition). There are countless other measures limiting and preventing strikes by Congress, state legislatures and the Courts that have become law.

A veritable legal web has been built up around workers and unions in the past 75 years since Taft-Hartley tying their hands, making it difficult to strike; and if they do strike, often to face jail time, big fines, government take over of their unions, and workers’ loss of their jobs.

Railroad workers in the US have always been a prime target of government strike prevention. The Railway Labor Act in 1926 set the pattern that was taken up for the rest of the US labor force with Taft-Hartley in 1947 and the further US government anti-strike measures that have followed. The 1926 law has been used as the basis for the US government to ‘lower the boom’, as they say, on railroad workers’ and their unions no fewer than 18 times in the past. So no one should be surprised it has just done so for the 19th time in the current railroad industry dispute.

US capitalists and government political representatives know full well that the transport industry is strategic and US workers if they so decided could bring that entire industry, and the economy in general, to a halt by engaging in a protracted strike to advance their bargaining interests. There aren’t too many industries and workers with that kind of power. The railroad workers are one. The longshore port (dock) workers another. The Teamsters and over the road long haul truckers probably another. Possibly oil industry workers. Maybe sanitation workers if they had a nation wide contract. But none could bring the economy to a halt faster than the railroad workers.

Since 1980 the current US neoliberal capitalist regime in America has succeeded in breaking the back of the industrial unions that once had something of a nearly similar power—auto, steel, electrical, meatpacking, etc.—by relocating their operations offshore. The government has enabled that 40 year effort by providing offshoring companies additional tax incentives to relocate, by passing free trade agreements with foreign countries that allowed offshoring companies to ship their offshore produced goods back to sell in the US without having to pay tariffs at the border, and by deregulating banks and shadow banks and money capital flows to finance their relocation.  That led to a breakup of what were once nation-wide bargaining contracts by industrial unions before 1980. A similar strategic undermining of the construction industry unions since 1980 gutted their bargaining power as well by government allowing construction companies to create what was called ‘double breasted’ operations that enabled the companies to de-unionize all but inner city union sites. Along with double breasted operations, supporting measures that limited picketing and made secondary boycotts illegal quickened the collapse of region-wide contracts in the construction industry in the US and broke the bargaining power of construction unions as well, along with the industrial unions.

What was left in the US economy by 2000 were service employees unions aggregated mostly in small local bargaining units with consequent limited bargaining power and public employee unions in government that couldn’t be offshored. The transport unions like railroad, longshore shipping at ports, and trucking which were still potentially powerful. But the Railway Labor Act (railroad unions) and Taft-Hartley (longshore and trucking) are there to prevent workers and their unions from exercising the potential power they have.

The US government and capitalists have thus over the years devised a very successful ‘web’ of no strike measures to tie down the Labor ‘Gulliver’, keep it flat on its back, and unable to move its arms or stand up for itself!

The current 2022 railroad negotiations and government intervention is but the latest example of joint corporate-government intervention in labor negotiations designed to prevent workers from striking.

That government intervention began last August 2022 when the government invoked the Railway Labor Act and intervened in the negotiations.

The railroad workers’ last raise was 2019 three years ago.  They began borrowing months ago before their current contract expired July 1, 2022. By August they had agreed to a five year term new contract with the companies. In other words, they were already owed three years back raises for 2020, 2021, and 2022 effect on July 1 for those years. Apart from wages, however, remaining key issues in the negotiations as of August were paid leave, especially paid sick leave, which still does not exist in the industry. The workers demanded 15 paid sick leave days in a new contract. Railroad management and negotiators refused, saying workers could take their personal leave days or their accrued vacation a day at a time in lieu of sick leave.

But paid sick leave days was only the tip of the iceberg. Whenever they tried to take vacation days in lieu of sick leave railroad company management denied them the time off. And if workers called in sick and used a vacation day anyway, management disciplined them or issued them ‘demerits’ that added up eventually to discipline. What good is leave rights, whether paid or not, if it meant discipline (suspensions, demotions, reassignment of work, even discharges) when the leave was exercised?

Railroad management’s abuse of leave scheduling became especially acute during the Covid years. The railroad companies, like many other industries and companies, during Covid shutdowns lost many of their workers. Some estimates are as much as 30% of the railroad work force exited employment in 2020-21. That left the remaining 70% of workers to pick up the slack. That in turn meant they were required to work longer hours and excess overtime. Safety issues grew as a result of the overwork. Maintenance of the physical plant of the railroads also deteriorated exacerbating safety and health on the job. However, railroad management saw a nice rise in profits as their labor costs were reduced due to the 30% decline in the work force (and of course not having to give workers still on the job any raises for three years as well).

The shortage of supply of workers in the industry has contributed significantly to management refusing to allow leave time off, paid or not; or restricting the days when it could be used and how many consecutive days.  Railroad workers were driven to work longer and denied time off when they needed. The companies argued it was a matter of ‘management rights’ rules and contract provisions the companies insisted gave them the right to determine, or limit, the use of any leave as they saw fit.

In short, the key issues in the recent railroad negotiations were not just back pay after three years of no raises. It was not just the need for 15 paid sick leave days where previously there were none. It was about the right to take days off when sick, or injured, or even for vacations and personal leave days!

What good is paid sick leave—or any time off whether paid or not—if you can’t take it? And if you do, legitimately ill, and you’re disciplined. Maybe even fired if you accumulate enough ‘demerits’!

This was the situation as the contracts for 12 railroad unions expired this past July. In August the unions and companies could still not reach an agreement.  Management continued to insist they had total ‘managements right’ to schedule work and to deny leave—when sick or not—given the short labor supply in the industry. Managements rights was not negotiable, they argued. Corresponding workers’ right to reasonable paid leave and working conditions was not the issue, they further argued. The workers and unions begged to differ, of course.

In August the Biden administration invoked the Railway Labor Act and intervened in railroad union negotiations—for the 19th time. Biden appointed a PEB, a board of government bureaucrats, to review the negotiations and make compromise recommendations. While the Board deliberated for more than a month, into September, negotiations between railroad companies and the unions of course froze up. Why should the companies agree to anything in the interim until the government issued its report? In other words, government intervention stalled all progress in negotiations between the parties.

It got worse.

The Biden PEB issued its decision in September. That decision and its recommendation came down heavily on the side of the companies and their interests. It called for the companies to add just one additional ‘personal leave’ day. It said nothing about the scheduling problems and workers’ denied rights to take leaves. And as far as the unions’ 15 days of paid sick leave proposal was concerned, the PEB’s position was, to quote from page 86 of their report: “we are simply not in agreement that this sick leave proposal”…”is warranted or appropriate”!  Of course, that closed the door, froze up the company’s position, and gave management support to refuse to discuss any paid sick leave concessions going forward—or any other union demand for that matter.

For all intents and purposes, after September railroad management viewed the US government’s PEB report and recommendations as the culmination and end of negotiations.

Like the announcement in August of the government intervention, the September PEB report ensured that any flexibility in the railroad companies position with regard to paid sick leave, scheduling of time off, or changing a managements rights clause to allow workers to take their accumulated leave without fear of reprisal was now completely gone. Management would now just sit behind the protection of the PEB report and refuse to make any further concessions.

Under the Railway Labor Act, negotiating parties had, after the PEB report, another 90 days with which to try to reach an agreement based on the PEB and government’s ‘compromise’ recommendations. Management of course liked the ‘compromise’: only one paid personal leave and no paid sick leave or scheduling practice changes. And, since the PEB said nothing about improvements to the companies’ health cost sharing proposals, it meant they could go ahead implementing a roughly $100/mo. increase in the workers’ share of monthly health insurance premiums—from less than $300/mo. under the old contract to $398/mo. at the end of the five year agreement.

Nor did the PEB make any further recommendations as to retroactive wage increases for the previous three years or for the remaining two years until the agreement. The total ‘wage package’—including back pay and annual bonuses—amounted to only 24% over five years. The backpay barely covered the inflation for the previous three years. And for 2023 and 2024 the new wage

However, this would not prevent president Biden, in a press conference on December 2, to brag the railroad workers would get a 45% wage increase that he, himself, was responsible for! Both claims of course blatantly false!

By late September the Biden administration had thus come down firmly on the side of the companies and against the unions and workers! Railroad management completely ‘froze up’ in the following 90 days and offered nothing new beyond the PEB’s paltry recommendation of one additional paid leave day (to be take either as a birthday off or additional one day of vacation).

As the 90th day grew closer and it was clear there’d be no deal and the workers’ might strike in the largest four unions (and others in turn would respect their picket lines), the politicians got nervous. In November the companies warned the government they would start shutting down some railroad traffic by the first weekend in December. Nancy Pelosi, Democrat Speaker of the House, publicly responded saying legislation would be drafted by the House to prevent a railroad strike and started the process.  That of course froze up company negotiators even more. Why agree to anything more at the 11th hour of negotiations to get an agreement when it appeared the government would pass legislation to make a strike impossible and they’d be able to concede nothing more?

Again, as in August and September the government involvement made it less likely, even impossible, that the parties might reach an agreement. By preventing a strike the government was preventing progress in negotiations.

All union negotiators know that the threat of a possible strike at the 11th hour of bargaining often results in last minute concessions by management to avoid a strike.  But if that threat of strike was removed by government intervention and the additional threat of no strike legislation, then the possibility of last minute concessions to avoid a strike no longer existed!

Biden, Pelosi, the Democrats and Congress in general were concerned, they said, that a rail strike would bring the slowing US economy to a halt and accelerate forward the likelihood of the recession being predicted for early 2023 by even most mainstream economists.  In addition, a strike meant key resources for production and goods for consumers being in short supply. That would raise inflation at the same time.  Biden’s various measures to control inflation in 2022 were proving a failure at dampening price increases much, especially for food, rent and fuel. And the Federal Reserve’s policy of raising interest rates throughout 2022 had yet to have much impact on inflation by December.  These were the excuses given by the politicians for invoking anti-strike legislation.

In early December the US House, under Pelosi’s leadership, passed two pieces of legislation. One provided for making a strike illegal and essentially ordering both parties to accept the PEB recommendations. A second vote placated the unions by ordering the addition of 7 paid sick leave days to the recommendations.

But this second vote was a fraud. It was a measure the Democrats knew full well would never pass the US Senate where it required 60 votes.  Even if it were voted on requiring only 51 votes to pass that was not going to happen either. Democrat Senate leader, Schumer, never tried to invoke the Senate rule that would have enabled only 51 votes. He knew no doubt that Manchin and Sinema, Democrat Senators, would vote against it.  The second vote for 7 paid sick leave days thus predictably failed, while the first banning a strike passed the Democrat controlled Senate with a wide majority of Democrats and Republicans.

Not even able to get a paltry 7 paid sick leave days for railroad workers, which was passed in his Democrat controlled US House, when asked by reporters on December 2 what he proposed to do next, Biden replied: “We’re going to go back and get paid leave for all workers”!

By breaking out the two votes in the House—the one to ban the strike and the other to pass the 7 days leave—Pelosi and the Democrats engaged in a tactic that was similar to how, the year before in November 2021, they shot down and tabled their own Build Back Better spending bill. In that earlier case, breaking out infrastructure spending from the social programs in Build Back Better also resulted in the infrastructure part being passed and the rest of Biden’s Build Back Better proposals being shelved for good. If the social programs and infrastructure had remained in one bill both might have passed. The same legislative tactic was employed by Pelosi and the House in the case of the railroad negotiations votes this past week: The anti-strike first vote was voted up but the 7 paid leave days voted down.  If the 7 days had been embedded in the strike ban first bill, it might well have passed and the railroad workers might have gotten their 7 paid leave days. Those who wanted the strike ban, who were in both parties, might have accepted the 7 paid leave days as a necessary measure in order to get their much preferred strike ban bill passed. But such are the ‘too clever’ maneuvers of politicians.

Going forward it is unlikely that the unions and workers will try to defy the strike ban legislation hanging over them like a sword of Damocles. If they struck, management and Congress would likely imposed fines on their unions that would break them financially for years to come. They might even declare any leader guilty of a felony if they allowed a strike, not to mention strikers themselves. They might even follow up by taking over the unions themselves. The Reagan PATCO precedent, and other lesser known precedents, exist for a government take over of unions. It’s called getting the Labor Department to put the unions in a kind of government ‘receivership’, appoint some bureaucrat to run the union for years, during which there’s no bargaining or striking whatsoever.

If the four railway unions who haven’t accepted the government’s September ‘deal’ decided to go on strike at this point nonetheless, the legal pressure would increase immensely to prevent the other 8 railroad unions to honor their picket lines. If that occurred, the strike could be lost.

Other AFL-CIO and independent unions like the Teamsters might also increase pressure on the striking railroad unions, arguing behind the scenes that a strike would only lead to possibly more stringent anti-union legislation—especially as the Republicans are set to take over the US House in January.

But other US unions should make no mistake: the events of the past six months show that there are no ‘friends of labor’ in either political party, in Congress, or the Biden government when ‘push comes to shove’ in critical union negotiations.  International Longshore Workers Union, ILWU, on the west coast, now in negotiations themselves should especially beware. So too should the new leadership of the Teamsters union, which will undertake strategic negotiations with UPS Corp. next year.

We are in a period when the US ruling elites are willing to attack any challenge to their hegemony and power domestically, as well as internationally. As those elites prepare to take on global challengers of Russia and China, they will not hesitate as well to ensure firm control of class relations at home in the USA as well. The government’s recent intervention to deny railroad workers the right to strike is but the latest and most visible expression of the elites’ class war policy at home.

Jack Rasmus

December 3, 2022

Yesterday, US Senate passed a bill quickly to prevent US railroad workers from going on strike. It then passed a second bill providing workers 7 paid sick leave days (they had none and had proposed 15 in negotiations). In the following two 15 minute radio interviews of friday, December 2, I explain how the railroad workers and their unions were ‘set up’ by the Biden administration and its appointed Board to review the negotiations and recommend a settlement last Sept. that rejected workers demands for paid sick leave. Once the Board and Biden in Sept. rejected sick leave in its official recommendations, the railroad corps’ bargainers had the cover to refuse to make any concessions on sick leave or anything else. In short, the Biden admin came down on the side of the corporations and eliminated any chance of workers achieving their demands. This week the Democrats in the US House broke out the two bills–one to make a strike illegal and a second to provide 7 paid sick leave days–full knowing the Senate would pass only the first and reject the second.

For further detail discussion on the passage of the anti-strike legislation (the 19th intervention by govt on the side of employers in railroad collective bargaining since 1926, listen to the following two radio interviews.

TO LISTEN GO TO:

(Critical Hour Radio Show)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1I7FsduLLq7sNbevQfxlUTAJzDWQHFSZy/view

(Political Misfits Radio Show) (additional topics also discussed)

https://rumble.com/v1yhnf0-december-2-2022.html

Listen to my latest 20 min. radio interview of November 23, 2022 on economic issues of the day, including latest Fed minutes for November and future trajectory of rate hikes; shortages of various oil fuels this winter (diesel, home heating, natural gas, etc.) and pass through of costs into prices by monopolistic US corporations; price caps sanctions on oil by US/EU and their inevitable collapse; and collapse of crypto company, FTX, and its possible contagion effects. FTX’s connection to Ukraine and its FTT digital currency collapse.

TO LISTEN GO TO:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/122WSdgY8OqvzzQG2AvuhHM3W7SrVTjAv/view

For my analysis of the key results of the recent US midterm Congressional elections on November 8, listen to my November 18 Alternative Visions radio show–i.e. why there was no ‘red wave’ (as I predicted publicly on Nov. 5 there wouldn’t be); why the election 2022 was virtually a repeat of 2020 outcomes; and what the two parties are likely to do (and not do) in the next two years. (Also, the show includes some brief comments on the Fed’s admitting now that recession is inevitable + comments on the bankruptcy announcement of the crypto currency company, FTX, and its apparent money laundering activities in Ukraine).

TO LISTEN GO TO:

https://alternativevisions.podbean.com/e/alternative-visions-takeaways-from-us-midterm-election/

SHOW ANNOUNCEMENT

Republicans spinning their taking control of the US House. Democrats spinning their wasn’t a red wave. So what’s the significance of the recent midterm Congressional elections? My answer: as the French say, plus ce change, rien ce change’ (Everything changes but nothing changes). In today’s show Dr. Rasmus provides his analysis of the midterm elections, making the central point that there’s been little change in the midterms from 2020 alignments because both parties offered little different to the voters in 2022 than they did in 2020. Rasmus reviews the proposals and strategies of both parties in some detail, revealing neither offered voters much of any substance. The more important outcome was the DeSantis strong win in Florida, which opens a political pissing match in the Republican party between Trump and DeSantis. Today’s show also comments on the Federal Reserve governor, Esther George, statement today that the Fed might not be able to bring down inflation without recession, admitting more rate hikes coming and 100% certain recession (already here) after the holidays. The show ends with a comment on the implosion of the crypto currency firm, FTX; the possible financial contagion effects; and its Ukraine money laundering connections. (see Dr. Rasmus blog, jackrasmus.com, this weekend for a written article on the recent midterm election).