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The Socialist 8 July 2020 |
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Them and us
Them and us fishes, photo Suzanne Beishon (Click to enlarge)
- England's privatised water firms have paid out £57 billion in dividends since 1991, says Greenwich University analysis for the Guardian. They have accrued £48 billion in debt in that time - meaning borrowing has funded payouts rather than investment in leaky infrastructure.
- The world capitalist economy will shrink by $12 trillion due to the pandemic, reckons the IMF. The 4.9% global contraction compares to 0.1% in 2009 during the Great Recession.
- But central banks have bought over $6 trillion of financial assets to boost big business this year. The immediate result? A (precarious) stock market bonanza. Bosses scramble for golden tickets while the workers who made their wealth lose pay and jobs.
- The lockdown led to a surge in illegal killings of rare birds of prey, reports the RSPB. The reason? The rich retreated to their country piles - and birds of prey disrupt their game shoots.
- Retailers paid just 14% of their quarterly rent bills last month. Taking offices and industrial premises into account, 18.2% of commercial rent was paid, reports Re-Leased - compared to 25.3% in March. Can workers stop paying rent if we can't afford it too?
- US billionaire wealth exploded by 20% between 18 March and 17 June, report the Institute for Policy Studies and Americans for Tax Fairness. That's an additional $584 billion and 29 new billionaires. Jeff Bezos's personal fortune grew by $43.7 billion - or the GDP of Paraguay.
- While the net worth of US billionaires soared to $3.5 trillion, US households lost $6.5 trillion, and 45.5 million filed for unemployment, reports Forbes. And the US employment-to-population ratio fell to 52.8% in May, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To return to its 64.7% peak in 2000 would mean creating 30 million jobs, says the chief economist at Deutsche Bank.
- Women workers in Britain have been hit particularly hard by the corona crisis. The number of part-time vacancies fell 69.4% from February to May, finds Adzuna.co.uk. 73% of part-timers are women, says the Women's Budget Group. Mothers are 47% more likely to have lost their jobs than fathers, and 14% more likely to have been furloughed, says the IFS.
- And it's not just at work. 70% of mothers report carrying the main burden of home schooling, and 67% the main burden of general parenting, says University of Sussex research. 57% told Pregnant Then Screwed that pandemic childcare has damaged their career prospects. Website visits to domestic violence charity Refuge surged 950% under lockdown, the charity reports.
- Boris Johnson has promised £1.57 billion to rescue Britain's collapsing culture sector. But a quarter of that is in loans, and the rest is a one-off payment. Make it all a grant, and make it permanent - fund access to culture for all workers!
- Pandemic economic paralysis caused a 17% fall in year-on-year global CO2 emissions in early April, reports Nature Climate Change. This rose to an average of 26% in the countries with strictest lockdowns. To make this permanent, the answer is public ownership and socialist planning to replace fossil fuels. Only this can both improve living standards and deal with the remaining 83%.
- Even if emissions plummet, climate change in the deep oceans could accelerate by a factor of seven in the second half of this century, finds Nature Climate Change. The vastness of the oceans means heat stored now could continue permeating down for years to come. Marine life could be displaced from food sources and habitats in different layers of the water.