Economy

In the banking royal commission’s final report, Commissioner Kenneth Hayne made 76 recommendations for reforms to the sector, but stopped short of calling for charges to be laid against bank executives and board members, or any radical shake-up of the industry.

This has led some, such as financial commentator Michael Pascoe writing in the February 5 New Daily, to proclaim: “And the winner is ... the big banks!” His words were promptly reinforced by the fact that bank shares skyrocketed the day after the report was released.

After Commissioner Kenneth Hayne released the banking royal commission’s interim report in September, many of the headlines and takeaway quotes focused on its claim that banks “put profits before people”.

 “Why did it happen?” the report asked. “Too often the answer seems to be greed — the pursuit of short term profit at the expense of basic standards of honesty. How else is charging continuing advice fees to the dead to be explained?...

It is not unusual to hear someone blame the crisis in affordable housing and healthcare or the very expensive tertiary education system on Baby Boomers, the generation born between 1946-64. Gayle Burmeister and Mary Merkenich take aim at this mistaken argument.

Australia’s super-rich keep getting richer.

A new report from Oxfam has found that the top 1% of the country’s plutocrats now own more wealth than the bottom 70%.

There has also been a record rise in the number of billionaires — from 33 to 43 — with their combined wealth now at almost $160 billion last year.

Brazil is going through a profound political crisis, probably more serious than the military coup in 1964 that ushered in 25 years of authoritarian rule, writes Sue Bradford.

After his election as president in October, the neo-fascist Jair Bolsonaro began selecting his ministers. His most important decision — and one that will probably change the destiny of Brazil for many decades — was to choose Paulo Guedes, an advocate of extreme free-market economics, as a super-minister, responsible for a hugely-expanded finance ministry.

Street protests have broken out in at least seven cities across Sudan, beginning on December 19, in response to the price of bread increasing nearly threefold. They are rocking the repressive regime of Omar al-Bashir and echoing the protests against austerity and price rises that swept the country in January that were brutally repressed.

Many "yellow vest" anti-government protesters in France vowed to press on with their demonstrations on December 11, a day after wringing out fresh concessions from President Emmanuel Macron. SBS.com.au reported that Macron announced a series of measures the previous night in an address to the nation, including a hike in the minimum wage and tax relief for pensioners and on overtime work.

Edited by John McDonnell
Verso, 2018

This book is a valuable collection of 16 short essays on the crisis facing modern Britain, coming up with progressive solutions which a Jeremy Corbyn-led government could usher in.

It is edited by and has an introduction by Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell, a long-time socialist and close collaborator of Corbyn’s. He says: “We are seeking nothing less than to build a society that is radically fairer, more democratic and more sustainable, in which the wealth of society is shared by all.”

French police attacked demonstrators with tear gas and water cannons on November 24 as hundreds of thousands demanded President Emmanuel Macron resign over the rising cost of living.

The “yellow jacket” protests, named for the yellow high-vis jackets French motorists are obliged to have in their cars in case of breakdown, were sparked by rises in fuel duty that the government says is aimed at encouraging people to switch to electric cars.

Demonstrators built barricades in the streets and some ripped up paving stones and starting fires.

The Italian government is facing a very delicate situation, with its two major measures in the process of being ratified by the parliament, writes Daniele Fulvi.

Both the far-right League and the populist 5 Star Movement (M5S) that make up the coalition government know their credibility depends on the approval of economic measures that will provide for the citizenship income (the key point of M5S’s agenda) and the security decree (strongly advocated by the League’s leader Matteo Salvini).

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