Friday, August 28, 2009

An illusion of recovery?, Part 2 of 2

Note: Article originally published in Spanish for the weekly newspaper Claridad, August 13-19, 2009

As this happens, Wall Street has also been claiming that the recovery is on its way based on the “increase in value” of companies reflected in the stock market. What many of these companies have done is to cut back on costs (such as salaries by firing employees) so that even though they produce less and gain fewer revenues, profits can still be reported. These profits are based, among other things, in an increase in the degree of exploitation of the workers that still remain within the firm.

Other firms that saw an increase in the value of their stock simply made it because the profits made surpassed the forecasts, something that usually causes huge amount of money and investment to flow into those companies. The most notable case was that of Goldman Sachs in mid July. This bank reported a net profit of 3 billion dollars, a number that comfortably surpassed the projections of the analysts. Of course, this gain is in part explained by the disappearance of its competitors given the credit crisis.

Even with all the news that seem to announce the recovery of the system, the victims are still the workers that have lost their jobs, have had a cut in their hours of work, or that have conceded many of their benefits to their employers because of the threat of loosing their jobs. For example, in the case of the United States, we have that the actual average of hours worked per week is 33 hours, the lowest level since the 1970’s, and that is for workers who work a full time job. The problem of the fall in consumption that we mentioned above gets magnified if one takes into account that more than 6 million workers have now been transformed into part time workers since the recession began (Z Magazine, July/August 2009, p. 35).

Its clear from all the above that the possibility of a “jobless recovery” is probably the most vulgar example of how the representations of the health of the economy based on an eventual recuperation in its growth obscures the fact that the necessity of dealing with the precarious situation of most people is subsumed to the survival of a capitalism that constantly moves in an out of the crises that characterize it.

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