FAMILIA, CULTURA MATERIAL Y FORMAS DE PODER EN LA ESPAÑA MODERNA III Encuentro de Jóvenes Investigadores en Historia Moderna. Universidad de Valladolid 2 y 3 de julio del MÁXIMO GARCÍA FERNÁNDEZ (EDITOR) III Encuentro de Jóvenes Investigadores en Historia Moderna FAMILIA, CULTURA MATERIAL Y FORMAS DE PODER EN LA ESPAÑA MODERNA. Y en cuanto a las PYMES, en el año , las exportaciones como porcentaje de las ventas brutas (medidas en pesos) solo alcanzaron el 14%, siendo el sector de envases y cajas de cartón con el % el de mayor coeficiente exportador y el de muebles con el % el de menor coeficiente, lo que demuestra que nuestras PYMES han nacido y crecido. Y en cuanto a las PYMES, en el año , las exportaciones como porcentaje de las ventas brutas (medidas en pesos) solo alcanzaron el 14%, siendo el sector de envases y cajas de cartón con el % el de mayor coeficiente exportador y el de muebles con el % el de menor coeficiente, lo que demuestra que nuestras PYMES han nacido y crecido.
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Second European Research Conference on Microfinance. Conferencia Congreso no publicada. X Foro de Finanzas. Review of Managerial Science. Irimia-Dieguez, Ana;Blanco Oliver, Antonio;Oliver-Alfonso, Maria Dolores : Modelling self-sufficiency of microfinance institutions using logistic regression based on principal component analysis. Journal of Economics, Finance and Administrative Science. Journal of Business Research. Vol: Project Management Journal.
Procedia Economics and Finance. Procedia: Social and Behavioral Sciences. Vol: 1. Universia Business Review. Vol: 4. Vol: LXI. Revista de la Responsabilidad Social de la Empresa. International bond issues by corporations have grown much faster than cross-border bank lending directly or through local banks and a very large part of capital inflows now goes directly into the securities market.
These measures have failed to prevent credit and asset market bubbles in most countries in the region. Increases in non-financial corporate debt since in Korea and Malaysia are among the fastest, between 15 and 20 percentage points of GDP. At around 90 per cent of GDP Malaysia has the highest household debt in the developing world. Asian economies, like many others, are commended for building self-insurance by accumulating large amounts of international reserves. Moreover, an important part of these came from current account surpluses, not just capital inflows.
Indeed, all countries directly hit by the crisis made a significant progress in the management of their external balances in the new millennium, running surpluses or keeping deficits under control. However, whether or not these reserves would be sufficient to provide adequate protection against massive and sustained exit of capital is highly contentious. After the Asian crisis, external vulnerability came to be assessed in terms of adequacy of reserves to meet short-term external debt in foreign currencies.
However, there is not always a strong correlation between pressure on reserves and short-term external debt. Often, in countries suffering large reserve losses, sources other than short-term foreign currency debt play a greater role. Currencies can come under stress if there is a significant foreign presence in domestic deposit and securities markets and the capital account is open for residents. A rapid and generalized exit could create significant turbulence with broader macroeconomic consequences, even though losses due to declines in asset prices and currencies fall on foreign investors and mitigate the drain of reserves.
In all four Asian countries directly hit by the crisis, international reserves now meet short-term external dollar debt. But they do not always leave much room to accommodate a sizeable and sustained exit of foreign investors from domestic securities and deposit markets and capital flight by residents. This is particularly the case in Malaysia where the margin of reserves over short-term dollar debt is quite small while foreign holdings in local securities markets are sizeable.
Indeed its currency has been under constant pressure since mid In October the ringgit hit the lowest level since September when it was pegged to the dollar. Currently it is below the lows seen during the turmoil in January In Indonesia reserves exceed short-term dollar debt by a large margin, but foreign holdings in its local bond and equity markets are also substantial and the current account is in deficit. The country was included among Fragile 5 in by Morgan Stanley economists for being too dependent on unreliable foreign investment to finance growth.
Capital account regimes of emerging economies are much more liberal today both for residents and non-residents than in the s. Asset and currency markets of all emerging economies with strong international reserves and investment positions, including China, have been hit on several occasions in the past ten years, starting with the collapse of Lehman Brothers in The Lehman impact was strong but short-lived because of the ultra-easy monetary policy introduced by the US.
These bouts of instability did not inflict severe damage because they were temporary, short-lived dislocations caused by shifts in market sentiments without any fundamental departure from the policy of easy money. But they give strong warnings for the kind of turmoil emerging economies could face in the event of a fundamental reversal of US monetary policy.
Should self-insurance built-up prove inadequate, economies facing large and sustained capital flight would have two options. First, seek assistance from the IMF and central banks of reserve-currency countries. Or second, engineer an unorthodox response, even going beyond what Malaysia did during the crisis, bailing in international creditors and investors by introducing, inter alia, exchange restrictions and temporary debt standstills, and using selective controls in trade and finance to safeguard economic activity and employment.
The Asian countries, like most emerging economies, seem to be determined not to go to the IMF again. But, serious obstacles may be encountered in implementing unilateral heterodox measures, including creditor litigation and sanctions by creditor countries. Deepening integration into the inherently unstable international financial system before attaining economic and financial maturity and without securing multilateral mechanisms for orderly and equitable resolution of external liquidity and debt crises could thus prove to be highly costly.
What does a virus have to do with war and repression? The pandemic will pass, not without a heavy toll. But in the larger picture, the fallout from the virus exposes the fragility of a global economy that never fully recovered from the financial collapse and has been teetering on the brink of renewed crisis for years.
The crisis of global capitalism is as much structural as it is political. Politically, the system faces a crisis of capitalist hegemony and state legitimacy.
As is now well-known, the level of global social polarization and inequality is unprecedented. Such stark global inequalities are politically explosive, and to the extent that the system is simply unable to reverse them, it turns to ever more violent forms of containment to manage immiserated populations.
Structurally, the system faces a crisis of what is known as overaccumulation. As inequalities escalate, the system churns out more and more wealth that the mass of working people cannot actually consume. As a result, the global market cannot absorb the output of the global economy. Overaccumulation refers to a situation in which enormous amounts of capital profits are accumulated, yet this capital cannot be reinvested profitably and becomes stagnant.
Indeed, corporations enjoyed record profits during the s at the same time that corporate investment declined. As this uninvested capital accumulates, enormous pressures build up to find outlets for unloading the surplus. By the 21st century, the transnational capitalist class turned to several mechanisms in order to sustain global accumulation in the face of overaccumulation, above all, financial speculation in the global casino, along with the plunder of public finances, debt-driven growth and state-organized militarized accumulation.
It is the last of these mechanisms, what I have termed militarized accumulation, that I want to focus on here. The crisis is pushing us toward a veritable global police state.
The global economy is becoming ever more dependent on the development and deployment of systems of warfare, social control and repression, apart from political considerations, simply as a means of making profit and continuing to accumulate capital in the face of stagnation.
The so-called wars on drugs and terrorism; the undeclared wars on immigrants, refugees, gangs, and poor, dark-skinned and working-class youth more generally; the construction of border walls, immigrant jails, prison-industrial complexes, systems of mass surveillance, and the spread of private security guard and mercenary companies, have all become major sources of profit-making.
The events of September 11, , marked the start of an era of a permanent global war in which logistics, warfare, intelligence, repression, surveillance, and even military personnel are more and more the privatized domain of transnational capital. Criminalization of surplus humanity activates state-sanctioned repression that opens up new profit-making opportunities for the transnational capitalist class.
Permanent war involves endless cycles of destruction and reconstruction, each phase in the cycle fueling new rounds and accumulation, and also results in the ongoing enclosure of resources that become available to the capitalist class. In the decade from to , military industry profits nearly quadrupled. Led by the United States as the predominant world power, military expansion in different countries has taken place through parallel and often conflictive processes, yet all show the same relationship between state militarization and global capital accumulation.
In , for instance, the Chinese government announced that it was setting out to develop its own military-industrial complex modeled after the United States, in which private capital would assume the leading role. But militarized accumulation involves vastly more than activities generated by state military budgets. There are immense sums involved in state spending and private corporate accumulation through militarization and other forms of generating profit through repressive social control that do not involve militarization per se, such as structural controls over the poor through debt collection enforcement mechanisms or accumulation opportunities opened up by criminalization.
The various wars, conflicts, and campaigns of social control and repression around the world involve the fusion of private accumulation with state militarization. In this relationship, the state facilitates the expansion of opportunities for private capital to accumulate through militarization. The most obvious way that the state opens up these opportunities is to facilitate global weapons sales by military-industrial-security firms, the amounts of which have reached unprecedented levels.
Between and alone, the Global South bought nearly half a trillion dollars in weapons from global arms dealers. Global weapons sales by the top weapons manufacturers and military service companies increased by 38 percent between and The U. Private military contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan during the height of those wars exceeded the number of U. Beyond the United States, private military and security firms have proliferated worldwide and their deployment is not limited to the major conflict zones in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa.
In his study, Corporate Warriors, P. Singer documents how privatized military forces PMFs have come to play an ever more central role in military conflicts and wars. It has become global in both its scope and activity.
From to , the Pentagon contracted some firms from around the world for support and security operations in Iraq alone. By , private military companies employed some 15 million people around the world, deploying forces to guard corporate property; provide personal security for corporate executives and their families; collect data; conduct police, paramilitary, counterinsurgency and surveillance operations; carry out mass crowd control and repression of protesters; manage prisons; run private detention and interrogation facilities; and participate in outright warfare.
Meanwhile, the private security policing business is one of the fastest growing economic sectors in many countries and has come to overshadow public security around the world.
According to Singer, the amount spent on private security in , the year of the invasion of Iraq, was 73 percent higher than that spent in the public sphere, and three times as many persons were employed in private forces as in official law enforcement agencies. In parts of Asia, the private security industry grew at 20 percent to 30 percent per year. Perhaps the biggest explosion of private security was the near complete breakdown of public agencies in post-Soviet Russia, with over 10, new security firms opening since As all of global society becomes a highly surveilled and controlled and wildly profitable battlespace, we must not forget that the technologies of the global police state are driven as much, or more, by the campaign to open up new outlets for accumulation as they are by strategic or political considerations.
The rise of the digital economy and the blurring of the boundaries between military and civilian sectors fuse several fractions of capital — especially finance, military-industrial and tech companies — around a combined process of financial speculation and militarized accumulation.
The market for new social control systems made possible by digital technology runs into the hundreds of billions. As the tech industry emerged in the s, it was from its inception tied to the military-industrial-security complex and the global police state.
Over the years, for instance, Google has supplied mapping technology used by the U. Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and the other tech giants are thoroughly intertwined with the military-industrial and security complex.
Criminalization of the poor, racially oppressed, immigrants, refugees and other vulnerable communities is the most clear-cut method of accumulation by repression. There has been a rapid increase in imprisonment in countries around the world, led by the United States, which has been exporting its own system of mass incarceration. In , it was involved in the prison systems of at least 33 different countries, while the global prison population grew by 24 percent from to This carceral state opens up enormous opportunities at multiple levels for militarized accumulation.
Those criminalized include millions of migrants and refugees around the world. Repressive state controls over the migrant and refugee population and criminalization of non-citizen workers makes this sector of the global working class vulnerable to super-exploitation and hyper-surveillance. In turn, this self-same repression in and of itself becomes an ever more important source of accumulation for transnational capital. Every phase in the war on migrants and refugees has become a wellspring of profit making, from private, for-profit migrant jails and the provision of services inside them such as health care, food, phone systems, to other ancillary activities of the deportation regime, such as government contracting of private charter flights to ferry deportees back home, and the equipping of armies of border agents.
Undocumented immigrants constitute the fastest-growing sector of the U. As of , there were immigration jails in the U. Given that such for-profit prison companies as CoreCivic and GEO Group are traded on the Wall Street stock exchange, investors from anywhere around the world may buy and sell their stock, and in this way, develop a stake in immigrant repression quite removed from, if not entirely independent, of the more pointed political and ideological objectives of this repression.
Mexican researcher Juan Manuel Sandoval traces how the U. The tech sector in the United States has become heavily involved in the war on immigrants as Silicon Valley plays an increasingly central role in the expansion and acceleration of arrests, detentions and deportations. As their profits rise from participation in this war, leading tech companies have in turn pushed for an expansion of incarceration and deportation of immigrants, and lobbied the state to use their innovative social control and surveillance technologies in anti-immigrant campaigns.
As stock markets around the world began to plummet starting in late February, mainstream commentators blamed the coronavirus for the mounting crisis. But the virus was only the spark that ignited the financial implosion. The plunge in stock markets suggests that for some time to come, financial speculation will be less able to serve as an outlet for over-accumulated capital. When the pandemic comes to an end, we will be left with a global economy even more dependent on militarized accumulation than before the virus hit.
We must remember that accumulation by war, social control and repression is driven by a dual logic of providing outlets for over-accumulated capital in the face of stagnation, and of social control and repression as capitalist hegemony breaks down. The more the global economy comes to depend on militarization and conflict, the greater the drive to war and the higher the stakes for humanity.
There is a built-in war drive to the current course of capitalist globalization. Historically, wars have pulled the capitalist system out of crisis while they have also served to deflect attention from political tensions and problems of legitimacy.
Whether or not a global police state driven by the twin imperatives of social control and militarized accumulation becomes entrenched is contingent on the outcome of the struggles raging around the world among social and class forces and their competing political projects.
The initial cases of respiratory disease and of pneumonia in some appear to have been detected in Wuhan province of China by medical personnel there, perhaps in September last year. And initially the novelty or extent of the virus outbreak was perhaps not known, but the presence of a new virus began to be suspected.
Experts from the central health ministry in Beijing were alerted and rushed to the scene, looking unsuccessfully for traces of the virus among bats in caves. It was perhaps only in December that the anti-bodies among recovered patients and the RNA of the virus was found. The Chinese news agency Xinhua has now established and made public late on 6 April a time-line of the occurrence and various steps taken.
Perhaps it is only an independent investigation that would be able to clear the air, and prove or disprove allegations swirling around about the WHO and its leadership and alleged links with China. While the US and the West have accused China over its failure to immediately recognise and notify the WHO of this new coronavirus, it took the United States, under the Ronald Reagan administration, three years, from the time the California medicos discovered the new human immunodeficiency virus and the AIDS disease afflicting the gay community there, before the US acknowledged and notified the WHO and began adopting precautionary measures and promoting use of condoms.
In the interregnum, AIDS had spread across the country, affecting both homo- and hetero-sexual couples, and across the globe too. The origins of COVID, as a natural mutation, as many expert epidemiologists think, or some bio-experiment gone awry as some strategists in the West claim, and the role, if any, of the WHO, remain to be independently investigated and made known.
This though has not prevented everyone to jump in and publish their views on this, muddying up the waters. Before absolving this or that nation, critics might do well to look at past incidents of foreign funded research projects, under the sponsorship allegedly of the WHO and other UN system organizations.
COVID has brought to the fore the extreme fragility of the world order and the thin veneer of our civilization and its much vaunted human solidarity, behind which the law of the jungle prevails. Countries and their rulers present a sordid picture of attempting politics as usual, finger pointing at each other for blame, and engaging in competitive efforts to find cures and vaccines for exclusive use and thus to dominate global rivals, and enable domestic enterprises to secure monopolistic profits, at the expense of human life.
In sharp contrast, research institutions and the scientists manning them across the world, have set aside rivalries to be the first to discover a vaccine and publish the findings under their own names, and instead are joining hands to understand the nature and characteristics of this new virus and finding vaccines to counter it as well as curative medicines to treat it. And in both cases, weeks and months of strenuous efforts, and testing without external un-scientific pressures, and under strictly controlled conditions, for efficacy and hidden hazards in each case, are ahead.
Meanwhile, after the Thatcher-Reagan counter-revolution and four decades of deliberate dismantling of the State from the public health sector, as from other sectors of governance in countries ensuring public goods for welfare and health, doctors and medical aides in hospitals and public or private clinics are trying to cope with an impossible situation, with lack of basic equipment and precautionary facilities, for attending to the daily increasing influx of patients, young and old, struck by COVID and needing medical attention.
As some doctors in Europe have helplessly confessed and bemoaned in private, they have been forced to disregard their Hippocratic oaths and PLAY God as to whom to try and treat and save and whom to allow to die, giving them only some palliative care. As veteran Indian columnist and commentator, T. George, puts it, "an invisible invader SARS-CoV-2 , just ten-thousandth of a millimeter in diameter, has turned us all into helpless nobodies.
Once China had made public information about the new virus and quickly made available to WHO and others the RNA from patients who had suffered and recovered thus accelerating efforts to find vaccines , neighbouring countries South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore et al took note, and put into effect quarantines, testing and tracing of patients and those whom they had been in contact with, to control and prevent community spread and infection.
They have been reasonably successful. But the US and Europe initially neglected the impending crisis, resulting in both emerging as epicentres of the pandemic, still spreading amidst predictions of intensification and casualties. Despite many obstacles and distractions, and the attempts of non-medicals to influence State policies by the likes of Giulianis and the Jared Kushners with the US President Donald Trump , the scientists and their collaborative efforts will sooner or later find vaccines and medicines to counter COVID Its general availability at affordable prices across the world though will require intense global civil society mobilisation and pressures to prevail over the greed of Big Pharma and corporations and political attempts of some rulers to prevail over their rivals in other countries.
What would the world be like after COVID is brought under control, and there is some return to reasonable normalcy? What effect will it have on the world political, security, economic and social order and life?
Will it be business as usual or something else? Would it end as some in the Third World like Walden Bello, in the Philippines, think, or just go on as before? Gautama, before he became and was acknowledged as The Buddha, responded to the query about the greatest wonder of the world, thus: "Man is the Greatest wonder, for he sees before him every day men becoming old and dying, but thinks he himself will be immortal cited in Raghavan, Vol 1, Third World in Third Millennium CE, pp Jayaraman, wrote the investigative reports, leading to the two PAC Reports.
Una pregunta que surge naturalmente es, si realmente los acuerdos a los que se llegan en este tipo de reuniones tienen un impacto significativo. Se espera que la postura China sea contundente en cuanto a este tema. Esto no es todo. Se precisa diversificar la actividad productiva y las exportaciones.
While this explains the speed of the stock market fall, it is not enough to explain why it resembles the experience of the - crisis. Even before the crisis, the global economic outlook for was even lower than that for The impact can be comprehended, understanding the importance of China in global value chains. China is the source of five branches of the world economy: pharmaceuticals, automotive, aeronautics, electronics, and telecommunications. The closure of China's factories and trade slows down the production of these five branches in the world.
The impact is an immediate slowdown in world production until it grinds to a halt. The origin of this is the world order established in by the United States when the wall fell, and simultaneously China was integrated into world trade, creating the possibility of the law of one price.
The other side is the bet on fossil energy, in a world that is moving towards clean energy. China with clean energies is the axis of the new economic dynamic and the global technological vanguard versus the US that remains centered on dirty energy. While China is beginning to have an impact on its manufacturing sector, the havoc the world is suffering is of increasing magnitude. The same is forecasted for the industrialized economies linked to China in the coming months, as there is a lagging impact, mainly due to existing inventories and to the ongoing burden.
This lag will be one quarter at most. If China reopens, it will have lost a quarter of production; if China does not reopen soon, the loss could be as much as half of the production. On the side of the countries exporting raw materials, there is a price decrease that has become more acute, and a fall in the volume exported, impacting on their economic growth even more.
The drop in export revenues and the depreciation of all Latin American currencies express the effects of the virus-induced crisis. The fall in stock market indices precludes recessions in the region.
Indices such as the Baltic Exchange Dry Index BEDI and the Dow Jones Transportation Average DJTA , which measure cargo volumes, freight contracts and prices in maritime, rail, aerospace and land-based environments, show that there is already a drop in global trade that will soon be reflected in value chains. All these factors have affected the demand for oil. One of the most punished exchanges is Italy's In Latin America, Mexico's stock market fell These falls are more violent than the falls between September 15 and October 15, The difference is that in the stock markets had been falling since August This time the stock markets were on the rise even though global production has been on a downward trend since March These declines have impacted year bond yields in the US, Germany, and the UK, which are at record lows.
There is a portfolio recomposition towards the dollar that has produced depreciations in all currencies, which will make imports more expensive and restrict the consumption of imported goods in the world. The decision was taken at an extraordinary meeting, a situation not seen since the crisis.
The idea of global value chains designed to reduce costs has generated an uncalculated productive fragility whose effects are only now under study. The idea of global value chains, conceived from the reduction in costs angle, generated an uncalculated fragility of global production, the effects of which can only be studied in the future. What is certain is that uncertainty about the dynamics of the real economy has an impact on expectations in the world's stock markets and on economic growth.
The result is a general depreciation of all currencies with an appreciation of the dollar, which will result in a contraction of world consumption in the years and , at least.
The revival of production, whenever it occurs, will be slower than the previous dynamics. The new decade will be one of energy transformation and new technologies. El impacto que se ha presentado no se puede comprender sin entender la importancia de China en las cadenas globales de valor.
Si bien China comienza a tener consecuencias en su sector manufacturero, los estragos que el mundo sufre son cada vez de una mayor magnitud. Destapado por el departamento de Justicia de EEUU, en diciembre de ,  el conglomerado constructor fue acusado de implementar un complejo esquema de sobornos y compra de favores.
La respuesta es simple: el libre mercado necesita grados de legalidad y un Estado de derecho suficiente que asegure el movimiento de los capitales. Lower business and worker incomes have reduced spending, for both consumption and investment, and thus overall or aggregate demand. The recessions have been quite uneven, due to different circumstances and responses.
Various aspects may bear some resemblance to other supply-side recessions, e. A general recession typically involves declines in many, if not most industries, sectors and regions. Such output contraction typically implies underutilized production capacities, raising unemployment unevenly during a general recession.
In contrast, a structural recession refers to falling output in one or a few related industries, sectors or regions, not sufficiently offset by other rises. However, not all supply side recessions necessarily involve structural transformation, especially if not deliberately induced by government.
Typically, unplanned structural transformations result in supply-side recessions as resources are withdrawn without being redeployed for alternative productive ends. Some examples include post-war recessions when converting military industries to peacetime non-military purposes after wars end.
In market economies, such adjustments typically increase unemployment as industries become unprofitable — e. Growing unemployment lowers wages, while the conventional wisdom claims that cheaper labour costs will induce new investments.
Market resolution of such unexpected, massive disruptions is likely to be poorly coordinated, slow and painful, with high unemployment for years. Alternatively, governments can guide, facilitate and accelerate desired changes with appropriate relief and industrial policy measures. Slumps in travel, tourism, mass entertainment, public events, sit-down eateries, hotels, hospitality, catering, classrooms, personal services and other such activities have been due to physical distancing and other containment requirements.
Such collapses will not be overcome with support, relief and stimulus measures as most such activities cannot fully resume soon, even in the medium term. Expansionary Keynesian fiscal and monetary policies to address collapses in aggregate demand have limited relevance in addressing government-mandated restrictions intended to contain contagion.
A necessary precondition for the multiplier to accelerate broader economic recovery is the prior existence of underutilized productive capacities. Otherwise, increasing demand will simply raise prices when output and efficiency cannot be quickly increased profitably. Newly restructured economies will inevitably emerge from the pandemic, but some will do better than others. There is and will be greater need and demand for new as well as modified goods and services such as medical supplies, health facilities, care services, distance learning and web entertainment.
Economies trying to adjust to the new post-contagion context should use industrial policy or selective investment and technology promotion to expedite restructuring by directing scare resources from unviable, declining, sunset industries to more feasible, emerging, sunrise activities. Enabling, incentivizing or even requiring needed resource reallocations can help overcome supply bottlenecks. China and other East Asian countries have already had some early successes in thus addressing their Covid downturns.
All workplaces adversely affected by precautionary requirements will need to be safely reconfigured or repurposed accordingly. Structural unemployment problems, due to skill shortages not coinciding with available labour skill supplies, can be better addressed by appropriate government-employer coordination to appropriately identify and meet skill requirements.
Government policies, e. Without such inducements, stimuli and support for desirable new investments, desired structural shifts may be much more difficult, painful and costly. Thus, the ongoing Covid crisis should be seen as an opportunity to make much needed, if not long overdue investments in desirable sunrise industries, services and enterprises, including personnel retraining and capability enhancement as well as workplace repurposing. Esta enfermedad, producida por un agente infeccioso altamente insidioso, conocido popularmente como el coronavirus, se ha extendido como pocas epidemias pasadas a casi todos los rincones del mundo.
En el caso de Covid, hay problemas urgentes por resolver. The BRIC countries are in trouble. For a season the dynamos of international growth while the West was mired in the worst financial crisis and recession since the Depression, they are now the leading source of anxiety in the headquarters of the IMF and the World Bank. China, above all, because of its weight in the global economy: slowing output and a himalaya of debt. Russia: under siege, oil prices falling and sanctions biting.
India: holding up best, but unsettling statistical revisions. South Africa: in free fall. Political tensions are rising in each: Xi and Putin battening down unrest with force, Modi thrashed at the polls, Zuma disgraced within his own party.
Nowhere, however, have economic and political crises fused so explosively as in Brazil, whose streets have in the past year seen more protesters than the rest of the world combined. Picked by Lula to succeed him, Dilma Rousseff, the former guerrilla who had become his chief of staff, won the presidency in with a majority nearly as sweeping as his own. But overall it was a clear-cut win, comparable in size to that of Mitterrand over Giscard, and a good deal larger, not to mention cleaner, than that of Kennedy over Nixon.
The following day we lost it. How had it come to this? On taking office, Dilma tightened policy against risks of overheating, to the satisfaction of the financial press, in what looked like the kind of reinsurance policy Lula had himself taken out at the start of his first term.
But as growth fell sharply, and world financial skies darkened once more, the government changed course, with a package of measures intended to prime investment for sustained development. Interest rates were lowered, payroll taxes cut, electricity costs reduced, loans to the private sector from private banks increased, the currency devalued and limited control of capital movements imposed.
But, far from picking up, the economy slowed from an already mediocre 2. In response, it beat a retreat, starting cautionary reductions in public spending and allowing interest rates to rise again. Growth fell further — it would be nil in — but employment and wages remained stable.
At the end of her first term Dilma waged a defiant campaign for re-election, assuring voters that she would continue to give priority to improving the living standards of working people, and attacking her PSDB opponent for planning to reverse the social gains of PT rule by slashing social benefits and hitting the poor.
In the face of a continuous ideological barrage against her in the press, it was enough to give her victory. Before her second term had even formally begun, Dilma reversed course. A spell of austerity, she abruptly explained, was required. The imperatives now were to cut social spending, curtail credit from public banks, auction state property and raise taxes to bring the budget back into primary surplus. Soon the Central Bank had hiked interest rates to Since the economy had already stalled, the effect of this pro-cyclical package was to plunge the country into a full-blown recession — investment declining, wages falling and unemployment more than doubling.
As GDP contracted, fiscal receipts fell, worsening the deficit and public debt. It was also, more painfully, the price of her abdication from the promises on which she was elected. Not just disillusion, but anger followed. From the outset, its success relied on two kinds of nutrient: a super-cycle of commodity prices, and a domestic consumption boom.
Between and , the terms of trade for Brazil improved by a third, as demand for its raw materials from China and elsewhere increased the value of its principal exports and the volume of tax receipts for social expenditures. Compounding the end of the overseas bonanza, domestic consumption hit the buffers. Throughout its rule, the core strategy of the PT had been to expand home demand by increasing popular purchasing power. Over the decade from to , total debt owed by the private sector increased from 43 to 93 per cent of GDP, with consumer loans running at double the level of neighbouring countries.
By the time Dilma was re-elected in late , interest payments on household credit were absorbing more than a fifth of average disposable income. Along with the exhaustion of the commodity boom, the consumer spree was no longer sustainable. The two motors of growth had stalled. But his means of doing so had diminished. Favourable to large commodity and construction firms, this direct expansion of public banking was anathema to an urban middle class in an increasingly violent anti-PT mood, with the local media — amplified by the business press in London and New York — vituperating the dangers of statism.
So, switching direction, Mantega sought to boost private sector investment by tax concessions and lower interest rates, at the cost of a reduction in public infrastructural investment, and to help manufacturers by a devaluation of the real. But Brazilian industry was wooed in vain.
Structurally, finance is a much stronger force in the country. The fortunes of these and other banks have been made from the highest long-term interest regime in the world — crippling for investors, manna for rentiers — and staggering spreads between deposits and loans, with borrowers paying anything from five to twenty times the cost of the same money to lenders.
Flanking this complex is the sixth largest bloc of mutual and pension funds in the world, not to speak of the biggest investment bank in Latin America, and a swarm of private equity and hedge funds. In the belief that this must rally manufacturers to its side, the government confronted the banks by forcing interest rates down to an unprecedented real level of 2 per cent by the end of Industrialists had been happy to reap high profits from the positive-sum period of growth under Lula, in which virtually every social group saw its position improve.
But when this ended under Dilma, and strikes flared up, they were unmoved by the favours granted them. Not only were big companies in the real economy, like their counterparts in the North, themselves often long on financial holdings negatively affected by sharp pressure on rentier revenues, and for that reason not readily detachable from banks or funds, but as a social group most manufacturers formed part of an upper middle class much more numerous, vocal and politicised than the ranks of businessmen proper, with greater ideological and communication capacity in society at large.
The rabid hostility of this stratum to the PT was inevitably shared by manufacturers too. Between bankers above and professionals below, each committed to bringing down a regime now threatening their common interests, producers lacked significant autonomy. Against this front, on what support could the PT count? The trade unions, if somewhat more active under Dilma, were a shadow of their combative past.
The poor remained passive beneficiaries of PT rule, which had never educated or organised them, let alone mobilised them as a collective force. Social movements — of the landless, or the homeless — had been kept at a distance. Intellectuals were marginalised.
But not only had there been no political potentiation of energies from below. The style of the material benefactions of the regime created little solidarity. There was no redistribution of wealth or income: the infamously regressive tax structure bequeathed by Cardoso to Lula, penalising the poor to pamper the rich, was left untouched.
Distribution there was, appreciably raising the living standards of the least well-off, but it was individualised in form. Increases in the minimum wage meant there was an expansion of the number of workers with a carteira assinada, entitling them to the rights of formal employment; but no rise, if anything a decline, in unionisation. Purchase of electronics, white goods and vehicles was fanned cars through tax incitements , while the water supply, paved roads, efficient buses, acceptable sewage disposal, decent schools and hospitals were neglected.
Collective goods had neither ideological nor practical priority. So along with much needed, genuine improvements in domestic living conditions, consumerism in its deteriorated sense spread downwards through the social hierarchy from a middle class besotted, even by international standards, with magazines and malls. How damaging this has been for the PT can be seen in the fate of housing, where collective and individual needs most visibly intersect.
With the consumer bubble came a much more dramatic real-estate bubble, in which vast fortunes were made by developers and construction firms, while the price of housing for the majority of those living in big cities soared, and about a tenth of the population lacked adequate dwellings. In the same years there were six million vacant apartments, while seven million families were in need of decent housing.
Rather than itself increasing the supply of popular housing, the government funded private contractors to build settlements at a handsome profit in exurban areas, charging rents typically beyond the reach of the poorest layer of the population, and stood by as local authorities launched evictions of those who occupied vacant lots.
In face of all this, social movements have sprung up among the homeless, and are now the most important in Brazil: these movements are not around, but against the PT. But external conditions precluded any comparable outcome.
The dance of the commodities has gone, and recovery, whenever it comes, is likely to be subdued. It can be argued that, viewed in context, the extent of current difficulties should not be exaggerated. The country is in a severe recession, with GDP falling 3. On the other hand, unemployment has yet to reach the levels of France, let alone Spain.
Public debt is half that of Italy, though given Brazilian interest rates, the cost of servicing it is far greater. The fiscal deficit is below the EU average.
All these figures are likely to worsen. But that scarcely reduces the scale of the crisis in which the PT is now floundering, which is not just economic, but political. There, the origins of its plight lie in the structure of the Brazilian constitution. Virtually everywhere in Latin America, presidencies inspired by the US coexist with parliaments modelled on Europe: that is, over-mighty executives on the one hand, legislatures elected by proportional representation of votes — not Anglo-Saxon first-past-the-post distortion of them — on the other.
The typical, though not invariable, result is a presidency with sweeping administrative powers, whose weak undercarriage is a party lacking any majority in a parliament with significant legislative powers. Nowhere else, however, is the divarication between executive and legislative anything like as pronounced as in Brazil. This is, above all, because the country has far the weakest party system in the continent. In Brazil, proportional representation takes the form of an open list system, in which electors can choose any candidate from among a host of individuals nominally standing on the same ticket, in constituencies often with a million or more voters.
The consequences of this configuration are two-fold. Overwhelmingly, voters pick a politician of whom they know — or think they know — something, rather than a party of which they know little or nothing, while politicians, for their part, need to raise huge sums of money to fund campaigns to secure voter identification with them. The great majority of parties, whose number has increased with every election there are 28 in the current Congress , lack any political coherence, let alone discipline.
Their purpose is simply to secure favours from the executive to line their own pockets, and to pass down a residuum to their constituents to secure re-election, in exchange for supplying their votes to the government in the chamber. When Brazil emerged from two decades of military dictatorship in the mids, this system was designed by a political class shaped under it.
Objectively, its function was and is to neutralise the possibility that democracy might lead to the formation of any popular will that could threaten the enormities of Brazilian inequality, by chloroforming voter preferences in a miasma of sub-political contests for venal advantage.
Further accentuating the bias of the system is massive geographical malapportionment. All federal systems require some equalisation of regional weighting, typically involving over-representation in an upper chamber of areas that are smaller and more rural, at the expense of those that are larger and more urbanised, as in the US Senate.
Few, however, approach the degree of distortion that its engineers built into the Brazilian system, where the ratio of over-representation between the smallest and largest state in the Senate is in the US it is around Not only do the three poorest and most backward macro-regions, which account for two-fifths of the population haunts of the most traditional caciques, who dominate the most submissive clienteles , control three-quarters of the seats in the upper house of Congress.
Uniquely, they command a majority in the lower house, too. Far from correcting the conservative tilt of this system, democratisation increased it, adding new under-populated states that aggravate the imbalance.
In this landscape, unlike in any other country in Latin America to emerge from military rule in the s, no political parties of significance survived from the period before the dictatorship.
This was a deal between moderate opponents and traditional ornaments of the dictatorship that assured the executive a consistently large majority in the legislature, in the service of what would become a neoliberal programme in line with the Washington consensus of the period.
As a presidential candidate, Cardoso — regarded by capital as a guarantee against radicalisation — was drenched with money: the well-off knew their friend. Running against him, Lula was drowned in a torrent of cash. But once in office Cardoso did not in general — though there would be a crucial exception — need money to buy support in Congress, where his coalition with the oligarchic clans of the north-east, while subject to standard jostling over prebends, was not simply one of convenience, but the coming together of natural partners around common objectives.
Cardoso himself, who had long maintained that reform of the party system was a priority for Brazil and promised to deliver it, decided as soon as he was in the presidential palace, the Planalto, that the real priority was to revise the constitution so he himself could be elected for a second term. Abandoning any attempt to rationalise or democratise the political order, he presided — here it did prove necessary — over straightforward bribing of deputies to purchase the super-majority in Congress required to ram the change through.
When Lula was finally elected in , the PT was in a different position. But in Congress he had no natural allies of any significance. How was it to secure any kind of working majority to support him from this marais? The classic course for the PT would have been to cut a deal with this creature, by allocating it a major share of cabinet posts and state agencies. That solution the party — there is dispute as to who in its high command was for and who against it — rejected, fearing its consequence would be such an ideological dead-weight within the government that progressive momentum of any kind would be neutered.
Instead, the decision was made to stitch together a patchwork of backers out of the dense array of smaller parties, without conceding them much foothold in the government, but paying them cash for their support in the chamber by way of a solatium.
In effect, the PT attempted to compensate for its lack of the kinds of partner with whom Cardoso had enjoyed a natural connubium, and its refusal of the kind of spoils system Sarney had operated, by dispensing a set of material inducements to co-operation at a lower level, and in lesser coinage: monthly wads of money in lieu of major offices of state.
Far from declining, however, systemic corruption escalated. Not only was the PMDB a byword for plunder of public resources in its strongholds at municipal and state level for decades it has ceased even to put up a presidential candidate , but a gigantic honey-pot, beyond any previous imagining, was taking shape with the expansion of Petrobras, the state oil firm, whose activities would at their height amount to 10 per cent of GDP; market capitalisation at that point would make it the fourth most valuable company in the world.
The construction of new refineries, tankers, rigs, offshore platforms, petrochemical complexes offered vast opportunities for kickbacks, and soon an established scheme was in place. Malversation was certainly no novelty in the history of Petrobras, Cardoso preferring to look the other way, and until the spring of the company enjoyed the customary impunity of wealth and power in Brazil.
The first two were the weapons that allowed Italian magistrates to lay siege to the political and industrial class in the Tangentopoli scandals of the s. The third they never acquired. In Brazil, a further means of extracting confessions from those under pre-emptive lock and key was devised: threats to extend the same treatment to their wives and children.
Held in Curitiba, far to the south, to protect his family this doleiro began to reveal the scale of the system of corruption in Petrobras, in which he had been one of the key intermediaries for the transfer of funds between contractors, directors and politicians, inside and outside the country. In short order, charges were brought against nine top construction companies in Brazil, their famous bosses put under arrest, three senior directors of Petrobras jailed, and investigations opened against more than fifty politicians, members of Congress or state governors.
Which banked the most is still unclear. But since few had any illusions about the first two, it was the exposure of the third that mattered politically. Of their zeal to root out corruption, and the value of their shock to the business and political elites of the country, there could be no doubt. But as in Italy, aims and methods did not always coincide. Delation for gain, and indefinite incarceration without charge, combine inducement and intimidation: blunt instruments in the search for truth and pursuit of justice, but in Brazil within the law.
Leakage of information, or mere suspicion, from investigations still supposedly secret to the press is not: it is clearly illegal. In Italy, it was regularly used by the Milan pool, and would be used even more widely by the pool in Curitiba. Did the drip-feed from magistrates to media mean their objectives were the same, the fruit — as the PT already saw it — of an operation in common? But might the leaks against the PT be the result less of a partisan aversion to it than of a calculation that there would be no better way to dramatise the evils of corruption than to pick it out for obloquy, as for more than a decade the leading political force in the land, and the one about which the media for their own reasons were most eager for revelations?
Damaging stories about the PMDB would be too banal, and the PSDB could be spared as, at national level, an opposition party with less access to federal coffers, whatever its record at state level. The Lava Jato scandal broke in the spring of , and successive arrests and charges kept it in the headlines through the presidential contest in the autumn.
If so, it was in vain. Outflanking even the PSDB in the virulence of its attacks, a new right rocketed to prominence in the mass demonstrations against Dilma of March In Brazil the traditional slogans of the right were Family, God and Freedom, the banners of a conservatism that hailed the arrival of the military dictatorship in Half a century later, the rallying cries had changed. Recruited from a younger generation of middle-class activists, a new right — often proud to call itself such — spoke less of the deity, hardly at all of the family, and reinterpreted liberty.
For this layer, the free market was the foundation of every other freedom, the state its hydra-headed enemy. Politics started, not in the institutions of a decaying order, but in the street and squares, where citizens could topple a regime of parasites and robbers. Surfing the mass demonstrations against Dilma, the two leading groups of this radical right — Vem Pra Rua and Movimento Brasil Livre — have modelled their tactics on the role on the radical left of Movimento Passe-Livre in sparking the protests of , the second even deliberately echoing its acronym: for MPL read MBL.
The organisations are small on both sides of the divide, each relying on mobilising larger numbers by intensive use of the internet.
To date, the multiplier effects of the new right have been much greater. Beyond it lies the ambiguous nebula of new religion. More than a fifth of the population of Brazil are now converts to one variety or another of evangelical Protestantism. In the pattern of the Unification Church of the Reverend Moon, many — certainly the largest — of these are business rackets milking the faithful for money to erect financial empires for their founders.
Unlike American evangelicals, the Brazilian churches do not possess marked ideological profiles, other than on such issues as abortion or gay marriage. Macedo supported Cardoso as a bulwark against communism, later fell in behind Lula, and since then has created his own political organisation.
But most of the churches operate much like the undergrowth of Brazilian parties: they are vehicles for hire, swapping votes for favours, with the difference that they will back candidates on any number of tickets — the evangelical caucus in Congress, some 18 per cent of the lower chamber, includes deputies from 22 parties. Its principal interests lie in securing licences for their radio and television stations, tax exemption for their businesses, and access to land for building pharaonic monuments to themselves.
At the same time, if more passively and promiscuously than their counterparts in the US, they form a conservative reservoir for aggressively right-wing leaders in Congress. There, symptomatically, the president of the Evangelical Front is a muscular pastor and former policeman who sits on the benches of the PSDB.
There too, elected speaker of the house in February — the most powerful post in Congress, and the third office of state after president and vice-president — was Eduardo Cunha, an evangelical operator from Rio and leader of the PMDB bench.
Reaching a crescendo in September, the movement to depose her extended across a broad milieu, in which different forces and figures overlapped in indeterminate ways, the young turks of MBL and ROL posing for photographs with Cunha, pillars of the law Moro and Dallagnol another evangelical consorting with PSDB politicians and pro-impeachment lobbies, the press pummelling the PT and the Planalto with new denunciations daily.
Either Dilma had illegally concealed a deficit in the accounts of the state in order to be re-elected, or she had relied on large injections of corruption to finance her election campaign, or both — in either event, grounds for her speedy ejection from office as an affront to public probity.
Eighty per cent of the population, polls showed, already wished her gone. Into this scene, a bombshell exploded. At the disposal of the couple, held in the name of two local companies — defeating satire, one of them called Jesus.
Evidence that he had been extracting huge bribes from Petrobras piled up. Even for the most obedient press, this was too much. In Congress, a comedy of reversals ensued. Under the Brazilian constitution, the speaker of the house is vested with the sole power to bring a motion for impeachment of the president to the floor.
For months the PSDB had been courting Cunha, conferring with him in intimate conclaves on the tactics and timing of the trial in view. The revelation of his treasure-chest in Switzerland, with evidence immensely more damning than any purported against Dilma, thus came as an acute embarrassment for the party.