economy

The one thing that we can expect with some confidence this year is an increase in unemployment. An analysis of Australian employment statistics for 2013 shows that jobs growth was at its lowest level for more than 20 years.

Last year, unemployment increased by more than 5000 people a month. In the month of December, the economy lost 23,000 jobs, making last year the weakest calendar year of jobs growth since 1992. The number of officially unemployed increased by more than 9% to 722,000.

The usual boilerplate announcements that “significant progress” was achieved in the just-concluded round of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations cannot hide that public opposition is growing. The United States seems to be having difficulty bullying its negotiating partners.

The TPP, being negotiated in secret between the US, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam. These countries account for 40$ of the world economy. Japan has recently joined talks.

Supporters of the Venezuelan government celebrated their victory in the municipal elections held on December 8. Analysts have commented that results indicate President Nicolas Maduro has “reconnected” with the social base of the Chavista movement.

The first results announced gave the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) victory in 58% of the country’s municipalities. The PSUV and its allies gained more than 49% of the total vote share versus 43% for the opposition.

'Mandela led fight against apartheid, but not against extreme inequality.' Patrick Bond spoke to Real News Network on December 5. Read the full transcript.

Is that a faint glimmer light at the end of the European economic tunnel? Or is it just a bunch of conservative politicians brandishing torches and yelling: “Look, a light at the end of the tunnel”?

The “Light-At-The-End-Of-The-Tunnel” mantra is a vital part of conservative government strategy in depressed Portugal, Greece, Ireland and Spain (the European “periphery”).

Every skerrick of non-disastrous economic news gets boosted as proof of a coming resurrection ― and one more reason why people should forget about revolt in the streets or ballot box.

Lurid articles about Venezuela have peppered the Western press in recent days and weeks. The latest event that has been widely reported is the use of the military to occupy stores, including the national electronics chain Daka, with a mandate to sell products at “just prices”.

This is viewed by most media outlets as further evidence of the chaotic mismanagement of the economy by the government. However, while there are serious economic problems in Venezuela, this one-sided portrayal prevents an informed debate.

Venezuela’s National Assembly granted President Nicolas Maduro the power to pass laws by decree on economic and anti-corruption issues for a period of 12 months on November 19.

The National Assembly held a second and final vote on a proposal from Maduro to enact the so-called enabling law, which allows him to legislate by decree on specific issues for the period set by the assembly.

Maduro has been empowered to pass laws to “fight corruption, usury, money laundering and the economic war unleashed in recent times against the country by the national oligarchy”.

For more than a decade, people opposed to Venezuela's left-wing government have argued that its economy would implode. Like communists in the 1930s rooting for the final crisis of capitalism, they saw economic collapse just around the corner.

How frustrating it has been for them to witness only two recessions: one directly caused by the opposition's oil strike (December 2002-May 2003) and one brought on by the world recession (2009 and the first half of 2010).

Selected people in Australia recently received the following invitation from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade: “Dear TPP Stakeholders, As part of the Australian Government’s ongoing public consultation process on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) negotiations, the TPP negotiating team will be visiting Sydney on 30 October 2013 to meet with interested members of the public, and business and civil society stakeholders.

“The meeting will provide an update on the negotiations and an opportunity for further stakeholder input.”

The Business Council of Australia (BCA) is a powerful right-wing lobby for big corporations, which has spearheaded the push for deregulation and privatisation in Australia for four decades.

It has also led the war on trade unions and the promotion of individual contracts to replace collective bargaining.

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