by James Petras
The economic, political and social outlook for 2012 is profoundly negative. The almost universal consensus, even among mainstream orthodox economists is pessimistic regarding the world economy. Although, even here, their predictions understatethe scope and depth of the crises, there are powerful reasons to believe that beginning in 2012, we are heading toward a steeper declinethan what was experienced during the Great Recession of 2008 – 2009. With fewer resources, greater debt and increasing popular resistance to shouldering the burden of saving the capitalist system, the governments cannot bail out the system.
Many of the major institutions and economic relations which were cause and consequence of world and regional capitalist expansion over the past three decades are in the process of disintegration and disarray. The previous economic engines of global expansion, the US and the European Union, have exhausted their potentialities and are in open decline. The new centers of growth, China, India, Brazil, Russia, which for a ‘short decade’ provided a new impetus for world growth have run their course and are de-accelerating rapidly and will continue to do so throughout the new year.
The Collapse of the European Union
Specifically, the crises wracked European Union will break upand the de facto multi-tiered structure will turn into a series of bilateral/multi-lateraltrade and investment agreements. Germany, France, the Low and Nordic countries will attempt to weather the downturn. England – namely the City of London, in splendid isolation, will sink into negative growth, its financiers scrambling to find new speculative opportunities among the Gulf petrol-states and other ‘niches’. Eastern and Central Europe, particularly Poland and the Czech Republic, will deepen their ties to Germany but will suffer the consequences of the general decline of world markets. Southern Europe (Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy) will enter into a deep depression as the massive debt payments fueled by savage assaults on wages and social benefits will severely reduce consumer demand.
Depression level unemployment and under-employment running to one-third of the labor force will detonate year-long social conflicts, intensifying into popular uprisings. Eventually a break-up of the European Union is almost inevitable. The euro as a currency of choice will be replaced by or return to national issues accompanied by devaluations and protectionism. Nationalism will be the order of the day. Banks in Germany, France and Switzerland will suffer huge losses on their loans to the South. Major bailouts will become necessary, polarizing German and French societies, between the tax-paying majorities and the bankers. Trade union militancy and rightwing pseudo ‘populism’ (neo-fascism) will intensify the class and national struggles
A depressed, fragmented and polarized Europe will be less likely to join in any Zionist inspired US-Israeli military adventure against Iran (or even Syria). Crises ridden Europe will oppose Washington’s confrontationalist approach to Russia and China.
The US: The Recession Returns with a Vengeance
The US economy will suffer the consequences of its ballooning fiscal deficit and will not be able to spend its way out of the world recession of 2012. Nor can it count on ‘exporting’ its way out of negative growth by turning to previously dynamic Asia, as China, India and the rest of Asia are losing economic steam. China will grow far below its 9% moving average. India will decline from 8% to 5% or lower. Moreover, the Obama regime’s military policy of ‘encirclement’, its economic policy of exclusion and protectionism will preclude any new stimulus from China.
Militarism Exacerbates the Economic Downturn
The US and England will be the biggest losers from the Iraqi post war economic reconstruction. Of $186 billion dollars in infrastructure projects, US and UK corporations will gain less than 5% (Financial Times, 12/16/11, p 1 and 3). A similar outcome is likely in Libya and elsewhere. US imperial militarism destroys an adversary, plunging into debt to do so, and non-belligerents reap the lucrative post-war economic reconstruction contracts.
The US economy will fall into recession in 2012 and the “jobless recovery of 2011” will be replaced by a steepincrease of unemployment in 2012. In fact, the entire labor force will shrinkas people losing their unemployment benefits will fail to register.
Labor exploitation (“productivity”) will intensify as capitalists force workers to produce more, for less pay, thus widening the income gapbetween wages and profits.
The economic downturn and growth of unemployment will be accompanied by savage cuts in social programs to subsidize financially troubled banks and industries. The debates among the parties will be over how large the cuts to workers and retirees will be to secure the ‘confidence’ of the bondholders. Faced with equally limited political choices, the electorate will react by voting out incumbents, abstaining and via spontaneous and organized mass movements, such as the “occupy Wall Street” protest. Dissatisfaction, hostility and frustration will pervade the culture. Democratic Party demagogues will scapegoat China; the Republican Party demagogues will blame the immigrants. Both will fulminate against “the Islamo-fascists” and especially against Iran.
New Wars in the Midst of Crises: Zionists Pull the Trigger
The ‘52 Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations’ and their “Israel First” followers in the US Congress, State Department, Treasury and the Pentagon will push for war with Iran. If they are successful it will result in a regional conflagration and world depression. Given the extremist Israeli regime’s success in securing blind obedience to its war policies from the US Congress and White House, any doubts about the real possibility of a major catastrophic outcome can be set aside.
China: Compensatory Mechanisms in 2012