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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: https://www.humanite.fr/lappel-deco...

by Bruno Odent

Economists Call for Concrete Solidarity

Translated Wednesday 6 May 2020, by Stephen Chalk

The measures taken under the domination of the financial markets are leading humanity towards a cataclysm. European economists are calling for a radical change of approach.

L’Humanité, Thursday 23rd April 2020

The so-called recovery plans implemented by Washington and by the European capitals provide for billions of euros and dollars in order to put capital on artificial respiration. As in 2008. Subject to the condition that the burden of bailing out the financial markets will be transferred onto the shoulders of ordinary citizens-taxpayers, giving rise to the prospect of new austerity potions.

The seriousness of the threat of recession indeed calls for public intervention on an unprecedented scale. But the choices made thus far do not respond to the urgency of the situation and are sure to lead to a backlash with a social impact of unprecedented proportions. A study by the NGO Oxfam (see L’Humanité of 9th April) warns that half of the world’s population could find itself under the poverty line after the epidemic.

This ominous economic forecast is the logical outcome of a prejudiced method of management leading to financial over-accumulation which, even before the crisis, had become untenable for the stability of the world economy. The interests of the public at large call for a radical change of approach in favour of the expansion of the common goods that are so vital for humanity’s survival.

Economists from the European political left have issued a call and a petition (1). They propose “the immediate creation of a European Health Fund”, which could be rapidly extended to other essential public services. It would be financed by the European Central Bank (ECB) in the form of 100-year loans, “non-tradable on the markets”, with zero or even negative interest rates. There would thus no longer be any need to undertake the slightest issuance of bonds, or debt securities, whose repayment sooner or later gives rise to austerity. The signatories of the call specify that the fund could also be used in order to meet the enormous financing requirements of the “developing and emergent countries of Africa, Latin America, and the South of the Mediterranean, the South and the East outside of the EU”. This concrete solidarity is a matter of urgency for Europe as well as for humanity.

(1) Among the signatories of this petition, available at https://www.openpetition.eu/petition/online/ecb-money-for-health-not-for-capital-international-petition are key figures from seven countries including the German Heinz Bierbaum, President of the Party of the European Left, the Frenchmen Frédéric Boccara and Pierre Laurent, the Italian Paolo Ferrero and the Greek Euclide Tsakalotos.

Bruno Odent

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