Latin America and the Caribbean are facing a serious debt crisis

Economy, Policies

Latin America and the Caribbean are facing a serious debt crisis

In the previous three parts we have observed the evolution of the DCs’ external debt over the last twenty years. The first part shows a dramatic increase of indebtedness, which multiplied by 2.5 with a steep acceleration from 2008 onward. The second part highlights the main threats on the DCs’ external debt, among which the growing significance of bonds, the evolution of interest rates and the depreciation of their currencies against the U.S. dollar. The third part examines the various factors that lure DCs into the debt trap: dependence on commodities, drop in foreign exchange reserves, inflating repayments, conjuncture of a multi-dimensional crisis aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, etc.

We deepen our analysis by focusing on various regions, starting with Latin America and the Caribbean.

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Why Brazil Still Matters

Brazil, Demographic

Why Brazil Still Matters

While many in the West lamented Jair Bolsonaro’s stunning ascension to the presidency of the world’s fifth most populous country in 2018, the election outcome was sealed roughly a year earlier. That was when Brazil’s two-term center-left president, Lula da Silva, who had been legally barred from a third consecutive term in 2010 despite an 86 percent approval rating—and who was leading in all the polls for a comeback in the 2018 presidential race—was convicted on dubious corruption charges and then declared ineligible to run. With his primary obstacle out of the way, Bolsonaro cruised to victory.

The stench of those events intensified greatly when Bolsonaro appointed the judge who’d found Lula guilty, Sergio Moro, to the newly enhanced position of minister of justice and public security. Even Moro’s closest allies in the sprawling anti-corruption probe known as Operation Car Wash (Lava Jato in Portuguese) were outraged by this blatant quid pro quo, which they realized would forever tarnish their legacy.

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“A threat to the world”: Brazil’s Covid-19 tragedy

Brazil, Demographic

“A threat to the world”: Brazil’s Covid-19 tragedy

Brazil now has the highest number of daily coronavirus deaths anywhere in the world, with over 4,000 fatalities per day recorded twice this month, according to figures collated by Our World in Data, a project by Oxford University.

The country’s total confirmed death toll from coronavirus now stands at over 350,000, the world’s second-highest, behind the US, which has a larger population.

In March, the country recorded 89,984 excess deaths above the death-toll average during the same month from 2015 to 2019. That figure is over four times that recorded in the United States, a country with a population one and a half times the size. The number in neighbouring Peru was 3,740, a rate per capita nearly four times lower.

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The US food system creates hunger and debt – but there is another way

Agriculture, Policies

The US food system creates hunger and debt – but there is another way

The Covid-19 pandemic has not only been a public health crisis, it has also been a hunger crisis. When millions of Americans lost their jobs, they no longer had enough money to feed themselves and their families. Hunger predictably struck people who were already marginalized. As was evidenced by long lines at food banks, it also struck middle-class families and exacerbated inequality. Even with vaccines, people continue getting weak and sick during the pandemic and the burden is disproportionately landing on women to work harder to ensure everyone stays healthy and alive.

To add injury upon injury, parts of the food system are also a public health hazard. For example, meatpacking plants in the US and around the world have fostered the pandemic, spreading the virus to nearby communities due to poor working conditions and environmental abuses.

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Coronavirus, Capitalism and Eco-communitarianism

Economy, Policies

Coronavirus, Capitalism and Eco-communitarianism

In this article, the author takes stock of the capitalist response during the pandemic to the educational and health challenge in contrast to the eco-communitarian response.

Around the world, and especially in Latin America, the coronavirus pandemic revealed a major fact of capitalist society: businesspersons and governments have prioritized the slogan “the economy cannot stop”, to the detriment of people’s health. This led to the fact that by not taking the almost total lockdown of economic activities demanded by various medical and scientific institutions, such prioritization contributed to the progressive worsening of the pandemic.

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Why Brazil Still Matters

Brazil, Demographic

Why Brazil Still Matters

While many in the West lamented Jair Bolsonaro’s stunning ascension to the presidency of the world’s fifth most populous country in 2018, the election outcome was sealed roughly a year earlier. That was when Brazil’s two-term center-left president, Lula da Silva, who had been legally barred from a third consecutive term in 2010 despite an 86 percent approval rating—and who was leading in all the polls for a comeback in the 2018 presidential race—was convicted on dubious corruption charges and then declared ineligible to run. With his primary obstacle out of the way, Bolsonaro cruised to victory.

The stench of those events intensified greatly when Bolsonaro appointed the judge who’d found Lula guilty, Sergio Moro, to the newly enhanced position of minister of justice and public security. Even Moro’s closest allies in the sprawling anti-corruption probe known as Operation Car Wash (Lava Jato in Portuguese) were outraged by this blatant quid pro quo, which they realized would forever tarnish their legacy.

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Millions Spend Easter Weekend Under COVID-19 Lockdowns

Policies, Society

Millions Spend Easter Weekend Under COVID-19 Lockdowns

India’s health ministry said Sunday that it recorded 93,249 new COVID cases in the previous 24-hour period, the highest daily tally this year in the South Asian nation.

Only two other nations have more coronavirus infections than India’s 12.4 million cases, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The U.S has 30.6 million cases, while Brazil has 12.9 million. Millions of people worldwide are under new lockdown restrictions this Easter weekend thanks to coronavirus infections that have surged despite the continued rollout of vaccination campaigns.

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The Politics of Stopping Pandemics

Disease, Threats

The Politics of Stopping Pandemics

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, global instability had caused a worrying rise in epidemics. Medical science alone won’t be able to turn the tide.

“Just a few years ago, many of us in the global health policy community were thrilled at the prospect of eliminating catastrophic infectious and tropical diseases,” Peter Hotez writes in his new book, “Preventing the Next Pandemic” (Johns Hopkins). He dates this high point of optimism to the start of 2015, when the success of vaccination campaigns had become dramatically evident. Polio, once endemic in more than a hundred countries, had been limited to three—Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Measles deaths were down by eighty per cent, from half a million children worldwide in 2000 to a fifth of that number.

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Seen from the sky: Polluted waters around the world

Ecology, Threats

Seen from the sky: Polluted waters around the world

About four billion people experience severe water shortages for at least one month a year, and around 1.6 billion people – almost a quarter of the world’s population – have problems accessing a clean, safe water supply, according to the United Nations.

While the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals call for water and sanitation for all by 2030, the world body says water scarcity is increasing and more than half the world’s population will be living in water-stressed regions by 2050.

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The Accidental President of Brazil: A Memoir

Brazil, Demographic

The Accidental President of Brazil: A Memoir

Fernando Henrique Cardoso received a phone call in the middle of the night asking him to be the new Finance Minister of Brazil. As he put the phone down and stared into the darkness of his hotel room, he feared he’d been handed a political death sentence. The year was 1993, and he would be responsible for an economy that had had seven different currencies in the previous eight years to cope with inflation that had run at 3000 percent a year. Brazil had a habit of chewing up finance ministers with the ferocity of an Amazon piranha.

This was just one of the turns in a largely unscripted and sometimes unwanted political career. In exile during the harshest period of the junta that ruled Brazil for twenty years, Cardoso started his political life with a tentative run for the Federal Senate in 1978. Within fifteen years, and despite himself, this former sociologist was running the country.

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