Category Archives: Economy

Sudan detains nine opposition leaders ahead of planned protest

Sudan photoSudan has been rocked by more than a week of protests sparked by rise in bread prices [File: Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters]

Arrests came after a coalition of opposition groups called for more protests after weekly noon prayers on Friday.

Authorities in Sudan have arrested at least nine opposition leaders and activists, according to a civil society group, in the face of fresh anti-government protests expected after the weekly Muslim prayers on Friday.

The head of the media office at the National Intelligence and Security Service denied any knowledge of the arrests.

Sudan has been rocked by more than a week of anti-government protests sparked by rising prices, shortages of basic commodities and a cash crisis.

At least 19 people have died during the protests, including two military personnel, according to official figures. However, rights group Amnesty International put the death toll at 37.

The arrests of opposition leaders occurred late on Thursday after security forces raided their meeting in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, according to a statement by a committee of professional organisations involved in the protests.

The nine arrested included Siddiq Youssef, a senior leader of Sudan’s Communist Party, as well as leaders from the pan-Arab Ba’ath and Nasserist parties, the statement said.

The raid came after opposition groups called for more protests after the weekly noon prayers on Friday.

Fourteen leaders of one of Sudan’s two main opposition groupings were briefly held last Saturday.

Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from Khartoum, said the protests were getting increased backing from political and civil society groups.

“It is not clear if the government would allow the protests to go, we have seen on Tuesday how they responded with tear gas and live ammunition,” she said, adding: “And this is basically what might be happening today again that more live ammunition and tear gas will be used and that the death toll will rise.”

Economic crisis

Protests initially started in towns and villages more than a week ago and later spread to Khartoum, as people rallied against the government tripling the price of a loaf of bread from one Sudanese pound to three ($0.02 to $0.06).

Demonstrators have also been marching against Sudan’s dire economic situation and some have called for President Omar al-Bashir’s resignation.

Doctors and journalists have launched a strike in support of the protests.

Sudan has been gripped by a deep financial crisis since 2011 when the southern half of the country voted to secede, taking with it three-quarters of the country’s oil output.

The crisis was further aggravated by years of overspending and mismanagement.

Opposition groups blame Bashir, who has been in power since a 1989 coup, for the mismanagement.

A series of economic measures, including a sharp devaluation of the Sudanese pound in October, have failed to shore up the economy.

In January 2018, Sudan was shaken by rare nationwide protests triggered by high bread prices.

But the recent protests that began on December 19 appear to be more serious.

Since the demonstrations began, police have used tear gas and sometimes live ammunition against demonstrators, according to residents.

The authorities have shuttered schools and declared curfews and a state of emergency in several regions.

Journalists at the daily Al-Sudani said one of their colleagues was beaten by security forces after protesters passed next to the independent newspaper’s offices.
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/12/sudan-detains-opposition-leaders-planned-protest-181228102006637.html

IMF warns storm clouds are gathering for next financial crisis

Deputy head David Lipton says global banking system is not prepared for another downturn

IMF photoCrisis prevention is incomplete more than a decade on from the financial crisis, the IMF’s deputy head, David Lipton, said. Photograph: Eddie Mulholland/Rex

Richard Partington Economics correspondent

The storm clouds of the next global financial crisis are gathering despite the world financial system being unprepared for another downturn, the deputy head of the International Monetary Fund has warned.

David Lipton, the first deputy managing director of the IMF, said that “crisis prevention is incomplete” more than a decade on from the last meltdown in the global banking system.

“As we have put it, ‘fix the roof while the sun shines’. But, like many of you, I see storm clouds building and fear the work on crisis prevention is incomplete.”

Lipton said individual nation states alone would lack the firepower to combat the next recession, while calling on governments to work together to tackle the issues that could spark another crash.

“We ought to be concerned about the potency of monetary policy,” he said of the ability of the US Federal Reserve and other central banks to cut interest rates to boost the economy in the event of another downturn, while also warning that high levels of borrowing by governments constrained their scope for cutting taxes and raising spending.

Lipton said the IMF went into the last crash under-resourced before it was handed a war chest worth $1tn (£790bn) from governments around the world, while adding that it was important that national leaders had agreed to complete a review of the fund’s financial firepower next year.

“One lesson from that crisis was the IMF went into it under-resourced; we should try to avoid that next time.”

Speaking to an audience at Bloomberg in London, Christine Lagarde’s deputy called on China to take urgent steps to open up its economy to global competition.

Against a backdrop of Donald Trump engaging in a bitter trade dispute with Beijing, he said China needed to lower trade barriers, while also impose tougher rules to protect intellectual property – a key complaint of the US president.

Lipton suggested that Chinese trade policies that were once considered acceptable when it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001 as a $1tn economy may now be inappropriate as it had become a $16tn international superpower.

However, he did warn that the US should not take an overly heavy-handed approach to reform, adding: “China has many reforms that it could carry out that would be in its own interest and in the interest of countries around the globe. But China feels they can’t take those steps, as they put it, with a gun to their head, in the midst of trade tensions.”

The warning from the IMF marked the latest intervention from the Washington-based fund as the outlook for the global economy deteriorates, with particular flashpoints being the US-China trade dispute and central banks raising interest rates.

Global growth is forecast to slow as a result of the trade war, while financial markets have also been rattled in recent weeks. The FTSE 100 recorded its worst day since the Brexit vote last week, prompted by fears over the dispute, wiping more than £56bn off the value of the UK’s leading companies.

After almost a decade of low interest rates, the total value of global debt, both public and private, has risen by 60% to hit a record high of $182tn, so if central banks raise borrowing costs that would create difficulties for businesses and governments.

Lipton warned that sustained trade conflict between the US and China would be likely to trigger “far-reaching and long-lasting consequences” for the global economy, with a risk that Trump’s rhetoric could encourage China to shift its economy away from the rest of the world.

“Trade barriers if they are sustained could lead to a fragmentation of the global economy.”

“If this [trade dispute] leads to stalemate, China may decide to reorientate its economy not to trade with the US. To accept sustained trade barriers … could lead to a slowdown [for the global economy],” he said.
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/dec/11/imf-financial-crisis-david-lipton

How the Definition of Development Aid is Being Eroded

InterPress Service

By Lyndal Rowlands

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UNITED NATIONS, Apr 21 2016 (IPS) – The traditional definition of aid is being eroded at the same time that governments have committed to achieving the UN’s ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Jeffrey Sachs special adviser to the UN Secretary-General on development told IPS Thursday.

“A lot of governments have a kind of magical thinking which is, we’re all for the Sustainable Development Goals but don’t come to us if you want to achieve them, go borrow from the private markets,” said Sachs.

Aldo Caliari who represents civil society in UN Financing for Development (FfD) negotiations told journalists here Monday that there has been a “significant shift in the language” in these negotiations towards “a larger presence of the private sector”. Continue reading How the Definition of Development Aid is Being Eroded

Pope tells corrupt benefactors that church doesn’t need ‘dirty money’

Catholic News Service

By Carol Glatz

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Speaking out against exploitation and unfair wages for workers, Pope Francis told benefactors to forget about donating money to the church if their earnings came from mistreating others.

“Please, take your check back and burn it,” he said to applause.

“The people of God — that is, the church — don’t need dirty money. They need hearts that are open to God’s mercy,” the pope said March 2 during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square.
God wants people to turn away from evil and do what is just, not cover up their sins with gestures of sacrifice, he said. Continue reading Pope tells corrupt benefactors that church doesn’t need ‘dirty money’

Socially responsible investors press companies to do the right thing

Catholic News Service
By Dennis Sadowski Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON LETTER SHAREHOLDERS

WASHINGTON (CNS) — If it’s spring, it must be corporate annual general meeting season.

For investors concerned about corporate accountability and transparency, it’s one of the busiest times of the year.

The annual general meetings give shareholders the chance to publicly engage corporate leadership on hot-button issues such as human rights, climate change, sustainability, lobbying expenditures and human trafficking. Continue reading Socially responsible investors press companies to do the right thing

Who is writing the TPP?

The Boston Globe

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Congress is in an intense debate over trade bills that will shape the course of the US economy for decades. Much of this debate has been characterized as a fight over whether international trade itself creates or destroys American jobs. There is, however, another major concern — that modern “trade” agreements are often less about trade and more about giant multinational corporations finding new ways to rig the economic system to benefit themselves. Hillary Clinton has said that the “United States should be advocating a level and fair playing field, not special favors” for big business, in our trade deals. We agree with this blunt assessment – and believe every member of Congress should consider this carefully before voting to help advance these agreements. Continue reading Who is writing the TPP?

The Lesson from Davos: No Connection to Reality

InterPress Service

The rich and powerful had all the necessary data for focusing on existential issues for the planet and its inhabitants. Yet they failed to do so. This is a powerful example of the disconnection between the concern of citizens and their elite. The political and financial system is more and more self reverent: but is also fast losing legitimacy in the eyes of many people. Alternative candidates like Donald Trump or Matteo Salvini in Italy, or governments like those of Hungary and Poland, would have never been possible without a massive discontent. What is increasingly at stage is democracy itself? Are we entering in a Weimar stage of the world?
By Roberto Savio

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ROME, Jan 27 2016 (IPS) – The rich and the powerful, who meet every year at the World Economic Forum (WEF), were in a gloomy mood this time. Not only because the day they met close to eight trillion dollars has been wiped off global equity markets by a “correction”. But because no leader could be in a buoyant mood. Continue reading The Lesson from Davos: No Connection to Reality