It is often said that central bankers 80 years ago were responsible for
creating the Great Depression. Constrained by their commitment to the
gold standard, they failed to ease monetary policy (cutting interest
rates) fast enough, say the economists, thus turning a crisis into a
Depression. But that is not the real reason.
May ended in Spain with frantic
attempts to prevent the collapse of the banking system, saddled with a
massive amount of toxic loans linked to the housing bubble. The
government attempted to involve the European Union in the rescue of
Bankia, while there were rumours of IMF plans for a bail out of Spain.
Meanwhile miners have gone out an all out strike in defence of jobs.
Forty years ago, in 1972, Britain faced a sharp and qualative change and
teetered on the verge of a general strike for the first time in nearly
50 years. A wave of factory occupations and sit-ins had swept the
country. More than 23 million days were lost in strike action,
excluding 4 million lost through political strikes. Only once, in the
revolutionary year of 1919, was the number of days lost greater.
A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of capitalist crisis.
Events are moving at lightning speed. This slow-motion train wreck has
suddenly speeded up. Each day we come closer to a Greek default and its
exit from the euro. Squeezed by foreign bankers, demanding their pound
of flesh, ordinary Greek people are being pushed to the limit. They are
being reduced to a state of wretchedness and indignity.
Just five years ago, not a day would go by without global warming making
the headlines. The American politician Al Gore’s documentary film about
climate change, An Inconvenient Truth, was seen by hundreds of
thousands in cinemas across the world. The Conservative Party rebranded
themselves as the champions of the environment, nailing their ecological
colours to the mast and urging people to ‘vote Blue to go Green’. Even
the arch-reactionary American president George W. Bush was forced to
concede that, maybe, the environment was worth thinking about.