From the TUC

Build a green economy from the rubble of the greed economy

15 Jun 2009, by Guest in Economics

Some commentators and people in the finance industry in the UK are now saying the recession is over. It is certainly true that aggressive policies to head off the collapse of the financial system did their job. It could have been so much worse.

But while the world economy – at least this month – is not in free-fall, that is not the same as recovery.

Inevitably manufacturers who have run down their inventory now need to restock, but where are the export markets that will lead to real growth?

Too many banks, businesses and consumers are still riddled with debt. The price of oil has shot up, ready to choke off growth. It looks very much as if that is being driven by speculation, rather than supply failing to meet demand.

Of course we should welcome any green shoots, but a few statistics that may or may not turn out to be blips, do not make for a recovery.

Nor will a technical end to recession mean much, if it just means that we bump along the bottom without creating jobs. And with unemployment set to grow for months to come – not just in the UK but across many of the world’s economies – it does not look like much of a recovery to the millions who fear for their jobs.

And while of course statisticians must do their job, I see a hidden agenda in much talk of recovery. If the economy is on the mend they argue, then we can go back to business as usual. There is no need for further action on jobs, no need for proper regulation, no need to crack down on the tax havens. The neoliberal model is not bust, and we don’t need to build another kind of economy.

But this argument is fatally flawed. I believe that far from being completed, our task has barely begun. Because it’s only when people are back in work – in good jobs that pay decent wages and support demand – that this crisis will finally be over. And unless we build a green economy out of the rubble of the greed economy, the next global crisis will surely be even worse.

So the choice we face is clear – to retreat into the global comfort zone of business as usual or to give globalisation a human face, and our planet a fighting chance of survival. Let’s make sure we do the right thing.

This post is taken from part of what I will be saying to the ILO Summit on the Global Jobs Crisis in Geneva later today.

4 Responses to Build a green economy from the rubble of the greed economy

  1. Charlie Marks
    Jun 15th 2009, 4:41 am

    At present, it’s not looking good. Particularly with the failure of the UK govt to junk costly neoliberal policies like privatising Royal Mail and “welfare reform”, and the possibility of the Tories taking over where they leave off, albeit with massive cuts in spending rather than investment in a Green New Deal to rescue our manufacturing base.

  2. Peter Hall-Jones
    Jun 15th 2009, 7:08 am

    Well put! It’s bizarre, the way so many commentators are bandying about terms such as ‘decreasing decline’. With all the smoke & mirrors of the stimulus packages, surely this is the least we could have asked for! The fact is that at the end of the day, it’s the exposure of workers’ pensions that provided the world with an emergency handbrake. ie the risk has been spread over a longer period, and over a wider group, not reduced. Credit where credit is due… where’s the leverage (in the good sense of the word) that should follow? It’s fantastic to see so many unions reacting to the crisis with proposals that would democratise economics.

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