“Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part Seven

Below is part seven of the series called “Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind. Forty facts on U.S. and international conditions, some updated and some new, are provided below. Once again, many economic records are being broken by a crisis-prone economy dominated by big business.

Links to the first six parts of this series, which collectively contain 150 facts from the U.S. and abroad, can be found at the end of this article.

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U.S. Conditions

“36% Of Americans making $250,000 are living paycheck to paycheck.”

“CEOs warn that US households are burning through savings at an alarming rate, and could run out within months.”

“Demand at food banks is way up again. But inflation makes it harder to meet the need.”

“The massive gap between rich and poor Americans costs the US economy more than $300 billion every year, study says.” The real figure is higher.

“Inflation drives Americans’ gloom about the economy.”

“Inflation will force 25% of Americans to delay retirement: survey.”

“Restaurants add new fees to your check to counter inflation. Checks now come chock-full of fees for everything from ‘kitchen appreciation’ to ‘wellness’.”

“US gas prices jump to record high $4.67 a gallon.”

“U.S. households are spending the equivalent of $5,000 a year on gasoline, according to Yardeni Research. That is up from about $2,800 a year ago and $3,800 as recently as March.”

“Over the past year, home price growth (20.6%) is four times greater than income growth (4.8%).”

“US housing market is so stressful that buyers are left in tears.”

“Crypto scams have cost people more than $1 billion since 2021, says FTC.” FTC stands for Federal Trade Commission.

“US robot orders surge 40% as labor shortages, inflation persist.”

“National survey of gig workers paints a picture of poor working conditions, low pay.”

“U.S. private sector job growth softens in May, ADP 1 data shows.”

“Elon Musk wants to cut 10% of Tesla jobs.”

“Small US companies lose almost 300,000 jobs since February [2022].”

“Zombie firms face slow death in US as era of easy credit ends.” Zombie companies are companies that spend most or all of their profit on paying off debt.

“American airlines CEO says the airline has grounded 100 planes because it doesn’t have enough pilots to fly them.”

“Health premiums will rise steeply for millions if rescue plan tax credits expire.”

“About 23 percent of Chicago’s public schools face budget cuts.”

“California is rationing water amid its worst drought in 1,200 years.”

International

“Eurozone inflation hits its highest level since the creation of the euro in 1999.”

Big risks threaten economic growth around the world as central banks try to bring prices under control.”

“Families will skip meals to deal with the cost-of-living crisis, UN special advocate says.”

“Red-hot coal prices threaten even higher power bills.”

“In the euro area, the share of private sector employees whose contracts involve a formal role for inflation in wage-setting fell from 24% in 2008 to 16% in 2021. COLA coverage in the United States hovered around 25% in the 1960s and rose to about 60% during the inflationary episode of the late 1970s and early 1980s, but rapidly declined to 20% by the mid-1990s.” COLA stands for Cost-Of-Living-Adjustment.

“In 2021, 39.3% of Colombians were living in poverty. Around 18.9 million people remain poor, against 17.5 million before the pandemic. The annual inflation rate in Colombia accelerated to 9.2% in April 2022, the highest rate since July 2000…. The World Inequality Lab estimates that the top 10% of income earners take 58% of the income generated in Colombia.”

“The interest rate in Brazil has been raised 10 times in the past year and now stands at 12.75 percent compared to just 2 percent in March 2021. Other countries including Mexico, Chile and Peru have also lifted rates.”

“Japan’s factory output slumps in worrying sign for economy.”

“South Korean inflation surges by most in almost 14 years.”

“Lao economy grinding to a halt as fuel crisis deepens. A plummeting currency, dwindling foreign reserves, and a spike in global oil prices have led to shortages across the country.”

Germany’s annual inflation rate jumped to “7.9% in May [2022[, the highest rate since the winter of 1973-1974.”

“Luxembourg economy slows down after pandemic rebound.”

“Price of UK pint [of beer] up more than 70% since financial crisis.”

“Turkey’s inflation soars to 73%, a 23-year high, as food and energy costs skyrocket.”

“Italy is held back by 2.6 million people who have given up on work.”

“[T]he cost of a hotel room [in Norway] is 24 percent more expensive than it was last year, according to research by radio station P4. That increase is even more dramatic in capital Oslo, with prices up by up to 60 percent over 12 months.”

“Chile’s mining production tumbles in April [2022].”

“Australian Catholic school teachers and support staff [about 18,000] hold first strike in 18 years.”

“Over $50 for a burrito? World’s elite splash the cash on snacks at Davos.”

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The international financial oligarchy is unable and unwilling to solve any of the serious problems that continue to worsen worldwide. Instead, it keeps taking actions that successfully degrade the social and natural environment. Things keep going from bad to worse, causing more people to view the rich and their political and media representatives as irrelevant, irresponsible, and illegitimate.

People do not feel represented under “representative democracy” and want a real say in the affairs of society. They want to end their marginalization and become the decision-makers in society so that problems can actually be solved. How is it possible that millions can be held hostage to a few big businesses and a broken economic system? Why can’t hundreds of millions of people and their government stop a handful of big businesses from immiserating more than 90% of the population?

In this retrogressive context, irrational media chatter about a recession persists and functions to divert people from the real problems at hand. Most economies around the world have been in a long depression since 2008. They have struggled just to establish low levels of economic growth. The notion that there is a recession or that there might be a recession trivializes the gravity of the situation confronting humanity at this time. Millions have been in dire straits for a long time. They do not care about how capital-centered ideologues technically define a recession. They experience hardship firsthand every day and do not need the privileged wealthy elite to tell them when things are not going well.

Democratic renewal is the order of the day. People need an electoral and political set-up that is going to empower them to decide all the affairs of society. No one else is going to solve the worsening problems confronting humanity. The polity, not the international financial oligarchy, must have sovereign power over the direction and aim of society. No meaningful lasting solutions will come from the rich and their representatives.

Part one (April 10, 2022); Part two (April 25, 2022); Part three (May 10, 2022); Part four (May 16, 2022); Part five (May 22, 2022); Part Six (May 30, 2022)

  1. See here for information about the ADP report. []
Shawgi Tell is author of the book Charter School Report Card. He can be reached at stell5@naz.edu.. Read other articles by Shawgi.