Bury the neoliberal agenda!

Washington summit should bury Washington consensus
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber will be joining an international trade union delegation to lobby the Washington Summit of G20 leaders called to discuss the economic crisis. The union delegation will argue that the Washington consensus of deregulation, privatisation and unfettered markets must end.

The union statement drawn up by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) says:

‘A national and global regulatory architecture needs to be built so that financial markets return to their primary function: to ensure stable and cost-effective financing of productive investment in the real economy. Beyond this governments and international institutions must establish a new economic order that is economically efficient and socially just – a task as ambitious as that confronted by the meeting in Bretton Woods in 1944.’

The ITUC calls for further co-ordinated interest rate cuts; governments to bring forward infrastructure projects; a ‘Green New Deal’ to create environmental jobs; and tax and expenditure measures to boost the incomes of low and middle income families.

The unions will also press for a new system of global financial regulation to ensure that a financial crisis of this type never occurs again. This will involve:

‘counter-cyclical asset requirements and public supervision for banks; the regulation of hedge funds and private equity; the reform and control of executive compensation and corporate profit distributions; the reform of the credit rating industry; the ending of offshore tax havens; the taxation of international financial transactions; proper consumer protection against predatory lending and aggressive banking sales policy; and active housing and community-based financial service public policies.’

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: ‘There is change in the air. The collapse of the right-wing economic consensus that said markets would look after themselves, wealth would trickle down and that Government should keep out of the way has already delivered a new US President. The Washington summit should bury the Washington consensus.

‘It took the world-wide convulsions of the Great Depression and the Second World War to produce previous significant movements of progressive economic change. With imagination world leaders could start to do the same today, and produce a global response that ensures the recession is short and shallow, and makes sure that the world emerges fairer, more stable and more sustainable from the effects of the crisis.’

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