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AS WORLD leaders gather for the G20 summit this weekend, Britain’s media are full of speculation about the froth rather than the substance of what they might – or should – be discussing.
No doubt the US and Chinese presidents will exchange views about the trade tensions between their two giant economies. Western imperialist politicians will have “full and frank” discussions with the hereditary dictator of Saudi Arabia about the brutal murder of a dissident in the Saudi consulate in Turkey.
There will be public rebukes of Russia’s president over his navy’s detention Ukrainian warships and their crews in the Crimea.
There will, of course, be no discussion of Turkey's 44-year illegal occupation of northern Cyprus, or Israel’s 51-year illegal occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and its slow strangulation of Gaza.
The extermination of tens of thousands of Yemeni civilians by Saudi Arabia and other royalist dictatorships may be a cause for some concern from a public relations standpoint, but leaders of the “free world” will assure us that progress is being made towards a ceasefire.
Only Russia will dare mention the catastrophic consequences of military interventions by the US, Britain, France and other Nato powers in North Africa and the Middle East. No-one will want to mention Indonesia's genocidal retreat from East Timor.
But there will be some sympathy for poor little Ukraine and its authoritarian president, who supports coups against elected governments in his own country, turns a blind eye to the murder of communists and trade unionists there and sends tanks and fascist paramilitaries against the citizens of eastern Ukraine.
There will almost certainly be some pronouncements about global warming, although the interests of giant monopoly corporations will ensure that the latest urgent and dire warnings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will – beneath the verbiage – go largely unheeded. So much for the sickening political hypocrisy that will be on display in Buenos Aires over the next few days.
More significant, in many ways, is what the world’s top central bankers will want to talk about. Their presence may well go unmentioned in most sections of the mass media, but their deliberations are likely to have as big, if not a bigger, impact on the world’s peoples.
The bankers’ concerns will be the slowdown in growth of the international capitalist economy, which now appears to have peaked in 2017. As recent statements from the IMF confirm, it is concerned about rising levels of mostly unregulated “shadow bank” lending to corporations whose ratios of debt to assets and earnings are reaching pre-2007 crash levels.
Much of this increased lending is for the same non-productive purposes as before: financial speculation, re-mortgaging, debt repackaging and the rest.
In turn, these markets batten upon the resurgence of household debt as working people and their families in the US, Britain, the eurozone and major Third World economies such as Brazil and South Africa struggle with downward pressures on wages, pensions and welfare benefits.
Predictably, the remedies pushed by Mark Carney and his cohorts will remain, in essence, the same. They will concentrate on the dangers of rising public-sector debt and inflation, urging the continuation of austerity policies to a greater or lesser degree.
In particular, as the latest World Bank report makes clear, they will want to see any wage increases matched – if not outstripped – by productivity gains. They understand capitalism's merciless logic: increased exploitation of labour power means increased profit.
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