The Challenges of the Global Economy in 2015

The following article was written by Napoleón Gómez Urrutia and published on January 8th, 2015 in La Jornada, Mexico City’s leading daily newspaper considered by many scholars as one of the last remaining independent newspapers in the Americas.


The Challenges of the Global Economy in 2015

Napoleón Gómez Urrutia

Thursday, 8th January 2015

It’s not easy to predict the future let alone arrive at a consensus for what 2015 will hold, or even indeed to pinpoint the most important issues from a global perspective or for a particular country. It’s likely that as predictions are made there will be some agreement about the key events and moments when changes will emerge. As it stands, no one has a crystal ball to tell what will happen.

I’ve no doubt that for some the prevailing view during 2015 will be optimism about the behaviour of the world economy and its impact on social, cultural and political activities, not least because certain estimates are predicting greater economic growth in international activity, driven principally by positive signs of recovery in the United States and Great Britain. That said, the current reality and the threat of recession and deflation in most European countries and Japan provide cause for pessimism. The same could be said of the uncertainty surrounding the lower rate of growth of China and India, which may lead to periods of panic and global instability.

International cooperation will come up against nationalist agendas in some countries and more aggressive commercial tactics in others, such as those employed in China and Russia, which have a real knock-on effect on the global situation, especially in the manufacturing, oil and energy sectors. The sheer volume of voices and projects in today’s world is so varied that governments and politicians have in some cases announced plans and reforms that will also have an impact, while others will base their hopes on human development, on protecting children and the environment, water, education and culture.

Regardless of the many alternatives and visions set out for 2015, for the world and our nation of Mexico alike, there is a common denominator that cannot nor should not be dismissed, and this is the fact that beyond each nation’s particular systems and conditions, there has been a rise in inequality and insecurity, with all the attendant consequences for stability and social peace.

Today we face a pressing need to overturn this marked trend, a trend which has been the result of the evolution of a twisted system based on the ambition, avarice and corruption that so often prevail. The risks of continuing to pursue a policy that each day concentrates wealth in fewer hands will be evaluated on an ongoing basis throughout 2015.

The situation has been analysed in different circles and by various organisations, leading to the conclusion that governments need to adopt a sense of urgency about forming progressive industrial policies, whereby trade unions are able to have an influence over promoting industrialisation and employment. Together, IndustriALL Global Union, the world’s most prominent global trade union organisation with more than 50 million members from 140 countries, Workers Uniting, formed by the United Steelworkers (USW) of Canada and the USA, and Unite in the UK, as well as the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and many others, have proposed a new model of economic growth based on the idea of a growing shared prosperity.

The main aim of these collective efforts is that, at the same time as promoting equity and democracy, they are pushing for the rationality and social balance needed to move towards establishing new ways to achieve greater justice, dignity and happiness.

There is one fundamental thing common to these proposals, in the sense that in most countries, economics and politics are entirely subservient to the will and interests of big corporations, which impose decisions on weak governments manipulated and controlled by those same companies. The role of serving the national interest of the many has been lost, while many company bosses, in collusion with the political elite, have become dehumanised by a lack of responsibility and social solidarity.

A really sound proposal, and hopefully one that all trade unionists can get behind, is that by working together across borders we can build a stronger future for workers and their families, which they well deserve. Through the crises that the world has undergone, especially the crash of 2008 that exacerbated the problems of inequality in society, it has become clear that for the first time since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the next generation will have a poorer standard of living than its predecessor.

If we truly want to build a global agenda of shared prosperity, the trade union movement must bring the fight to the political arena, by asking questions of the Congress of the Union members and mobilising public support. We must assure a better future for all, not just the minority, and build progressive alliances that will enable us bring our world into balance and steer it towards a better destiny.

As the IndustriALL Global Union has clearly articulated, we cannot leave decisions about the future of our industries, jobs and our planet in the hands of multinational companies, nor market forces.

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