Debt, austerity and devastation: it's Europe's turn. But in this special debt issue of the New Internationalist magazine, celebrated author Susan George gives a spirited lashing to European leadership, accusing it of being entirely subservient to the desires of finance and the largest corporations. "European leadership is brain-dead, ignorant of economics and needlessly committing economic suicide" she writes.
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Cheaply buying up "bad" debt owed by countries in distress and aggressively suing for full payment plus compound interest - that's the modus operandi of the secretive companies known as vulture funds. We examine the cases of Greece, DR Congo, Peru and Zambia. In our previous issue, we described in detail Argentina's life decade-long battle with the vultures. Little wonder that debt campaigners are urgently calling for new international rules to control the destructive activities of these vulture funds.
While bailout conditions impose austerity on debt-stricken southern European economies, demands to tighten the belt on military spending are not so vocal. According to a recent report from the Transnational Institute (TNI), the German government, while demanding social cuts, has been lobbying behind the scenes against cuts to military spending in countries such as Greece, because of concerns for its own arms industry and the debts it's owed. Where cuts to military spending are being made, it's mostly to personnel and wages - not what the TNI calls "toys for the boys".
Rising public consciousness of equality politics is reinforcing the campaigns for alternative strategies against debt and austerity. The magazine provides helpful links to organisations and campaigns, plus some great suggestions for further reading.
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