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Don’t accept IMF demand that the hungry must eat less

The bankers and commentators are telling us to tighten our belts. But the rise in living prices is a product of their system
Issue 2801
A picture of a shelf in a food bank to illustrate a story on the IMF telling people to tighten their belts and world hunger

The IMF tells people to cut back just as many more are going hungry and having to rely on foodbanks 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the hitman for global capitalism, has warned billions of people that they should tighten their belts and be prepared for hard times. Meetings of the IMF and World Bank this week gloomily charted how Covid and the war in Ukraine will further raise prices and disrupt the global economy.

The managing director of the IMF, Kristalina Georgieva, said that 143 countries will downgrade their growth outlook over the next year in the face of price rises for food and energy. A recent report from the charity Oxfam says that at least a quarter of a billion more people could be pushed into extreme poverty, defined as receiving below £1.50 a day. 

That brings the total to 860 million. The number of people below the poverty line of £4.25 a day is already well over 3 billion, almost half the world’s population. Oxfam pointed out that as ordinary people suffer, billionaire wealth “has seen its biggest increase ever” with more accumulation at the top to come.

 “Large corporations appear to be exploiting an inflationary environment to boost profits at consumers’ expense.“Soaring energy prices and margins have pushed oil company profits to record levels, while investors expect agriculture companies to rapidly become more profitable as food prices spiral,” Oxfam said.

The crushing weight of debt and demands from the bankers and the financial institutions for interest will lead to more calls for austerity. But resistance to the squeeze on living standards in Peru, Sudan and Argentina continues. Thousands of students in major cities across Indonesia protested on Monday against a rise in food prices. 

They also raged at a possible extension of president Joko Widodo’s term in office. Oil workers, farmers, students and retired workers have been protesting in Iran. “Without immediate radical action, we could be witnessing the most profound collapse of humanity into extreme poverty and suffering in memory,” said Oxfam International executive director Gabriela Bucher. 

“This terrifying prospect is made more sickening by the fact that trillions of dollars have been captured by a tiny group of powerful men who have no interest in interrupting this trajectory.”

There are two ways out of the crisis the IMF and Oxfam describe. One is to bow to the demands of the bosses and for those who are already hungry to eat less, for the workers to do more for less. The other is to fight back, to make the rich pay, and to push towards overthrowing the system.

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