Economy

Mass sackings as German department store group closes up to 80 stores

By Dietmar Gaisenkersting, 19 May 2020

Germany’s largest department store group, the merged Galeria Kaufhof Karstadt, is to close almost half of its stores.

US retailer JCPenney to close nearly one-third of department stores, announces bankruptcy

By Jessica Goldstein, 19 May 2020

The decline of traditional “brick and mortar” retail is part of a protracted process which has spanned decades. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated processes which were already well underway.

New Zealand Labour government promises billions for big business

By John Braddock, 19 May 2020

While handing over billions to big business through the COVID-19 crisis, Labour’s budget boosts the military and prepares a sweeping assault on the social position of the working class.

Australian government heightens trade conflict with China

By Mike Head, 18 May 2020

Successive Australian governments have been in the forefront of imposing tariffs and other restrictions on imports from China.

US Fed report reveals depth of financial crisis it helped create

By Nick Beams, 18 May 2020

A Foreign Policy article noted that with its asset holdings predicted to reach $9 trillion by the year's end, the Fed is pumping money into the financial system at the rate of $1 million every second.

US House passes $3 trillion coronavirus “relief” bill

By Jacob Crosse, 16 May 2020

In a near party-line vote, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed a fourth stimulus bill that has no chance of being approved by the Republican-controlled Senate.

Prices for basic foods soar in the US as pandemic disrupts supply chains

By Alex Findijs, 16 May 2020

Grocery prices in the country rose 2.6 percent in April, the largest increase in a single month since 1974.

Australian governments exploit mass unemployment to coerce workers into unsafe workplaces

By Mike Head, 16 May 2020

Nearly half a million workers dropped out of the workforce in April, yet unemployment and underemployment still reached a record total of 19.9 percent.

Worsening conditions at Hirdaramani garment plants in Sri Lanka

By our reporters, 16 May 2020

Sri Lankan apparel manufacturers have responded to the COVID-19 crisis with a wave of wage and job cuts and the imposition of increased working hours and productivity targets.

Unemployment soars in New Zealand

By Tom Peters, 16 May 2020

Having handed tens of billions of dollars to big business, the Labour Party-led government is presiding over an increase in unemployment and social misery on a scale not seen in generations.

Three million more US workers apply for unemployment, reaching 36 million in two months

By Trévon Austin, 15 May 2020

On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reported that 40 percent of US households bringing in less than $40,000 a year lost a wage earner in March.

Local county officials in California bow before billionaire’s demand to reopen Tesla factory

By Jessica Goldstein, 14 May 2020

Earlier this week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk reopened his 10,000-employee factory in defiance of the orders of Alameda County health officials.

Fed chief calls for more money for Wall Street and corporations

By Nick Beams, 14 May 2020

Powell’s remarks effectively poured water on the claim that once lockdowns are lifted, as being demanded by the “return to work” advocates, the American economy will immediately snap back in a so-called V-shaped recovery.

Democrats release fraudulent “relief” bill

By Barry Grey, 14 May 2020

The political charade and partisan grandstanding now under way serve to mask the bipartisan unity when it comes to protecting the basic class interests of the ruling elite.

UK: Johnson government readies post-lockdown onslaught against working class

By Robert Stevens, 14 May 2020

The offensive is being prepared as the government is attempting to force millions back to work in unsafe conditions.

German companies plan layoffs, attacks on wages and benefits amid coronavirus pandemic

By Peter Schwarz, 14 May 2020

The German government’s response to the pandemic was conditioned from the outset by the interests of the major corporations and banks.

India’s calamitous COVID-19 lockdowns leave more than 120 million jobless

By Wasantha Rupasinghe and Keith Jones, 14 May 2020

Egged on by big business, the BJP government is now pushing for a return to work, and cynically citing the suffering its lockdown has inflicted on India’s working people to justify making them risk infection and death.

Ohio University lays off 140 workers amid massive statewide cuts to higher education

By Katy Kinner, 14 May 2020

New layoffs and furloughs are in response to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s $775 million budget cut, with $110 million to be cut from higher education.

Mounting worker opposition to Quebec’s reckless back-to-work drive

By Louis Girard, 14 May 2020

Quebec’s rightwing populist CAQ government is spearheading the drive of Canada’s business elite to force a precipitous return to work amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Depression USA

By Joseph Kishore—SEP candidate for US president, 9 May 2020

The social desperation of millions of people in the United States is being used by the ruling class to compel a return to work amidst the expanding coronavirus pandemic.

Mass joblessness deepens in US as corporations move to implement permanent layoffs

By Shannon Jones, 8 May 2020

The official unemployment rate now stands at 14.7 percent, itself a significant underestimate of the scale of joblessness, as millions of families are confronting food insecurity.

US state and municipal governments plan massive austerity to meet COVID-19 budget shortfalls

By Isaac Finn, 8 May 2020

State and municipal governments are announcing cuts to medical programs and education and are furloughing workers to make up for the budget shortfall.

With minimal federal relief, US states plan huge cuts to public education

By Evan Blake, 8 May 2020

The impact of the pandemic has thoroughly undermined state budgets, which is being used by Democratic and Republican politicians to dismantle and privatize public education and other vital social services.

UK Chancellor Sunak to wind down furlough wage scheme as part of back-to-work offensive

By Robert Stevens and Julie Hyland, 7 May 2020

The furlough scheme is being ended with workers facing either going back into work in unsafe conditions, in the middle of a deadly pandemic, or losing their jobs.

Jobs massacre deepens in European aviation as four UK corporations announce 26,000 redundancies

By Julia Callaghan, 7 May 2020

In recent days, four conglomerates based in Britain and Ireland—British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Rolls-Royce and Ryanair—have announced they will be laying off a combined 26,000 workers.

Nearly half of Australia’s young hospitality workers lose their jobs

By Mike Head, 7 May 2020

Despite the biggest government handouts to big business in history, almost 1 million people were made jobless in just five weeks.

Mired in debt, Sri Lankan government vows to avoid default

By Saman Gunadasa, 6 May 2020

Big businesses and the government are translating this economic crisis into a massive attack on jobs, wages and all hard-won workers’ rights.

Layoffs and corporate bankruptcies spread as US workers face mounting hardship

By Shannon Jones, 5 May 2020

Job cuts are sweeping the US as major manufacturers join retailers in announcing long-term layoffs.

The political economy of capitalist debt

By Nick Beams, 5 May 2020

No matter how much it seems that “value” can simply be created out of thin air, the gargantuan mass of fictitious capital and debt ultimately rests on the surplus value obtained from the exploitation of the working class.

Euro zone economy contracts at record pace

By Nick Beams, 2 May 2020

The European Central Bank has taken the same road as the US Fed, committing itself to pump still more money across the board into the financial markets.

Germany’s Lufthansa: Billions in state aid and mass layoffs

By Peter Schwarz, 2 May 2020

The airline unions are appealing to Chancellor Merkel for state intervention.

Argentine unions and employers agree to wage cuts pushing millions into poverty

By Rafael Azul, 2 May 2020

More than a million workers will face hunger and poverty while businesses get massive subsidies.

Amid back-to-work drive and state reopenings

US government prepares for hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 deaths

By Patrick Martin, 2 May 2020

Press inquiries have found that the federal government is ordering enough body bags for at least five times the current US death toll.

As US unemployment reaches Great Depression levels, millions still unable to obtain assistance

By Shannon Jones, 1 May 2020

With the official jobless rate expected to reach 20 percent, millions find they cannot get state unemployment benefits as overloaded systems crash.

Stock markets surge as Fed pledges to continue corporate handouts

By Nick Beams, 30 April 2020

Despite figures showing the deepest economic contraction since the 2008 financial crisis, the Dow closed up by over 500 points.

Spain ends confinement, moving to “new normal” as COVID-19 cases rise

By Alejandro López, 30 April 2020

On Tuesday evening, Sánchez outlined his government’s plan under the name “ Transition Plan to a New Normal.”

British Airways announces 12,000 redundancies amid global airline jobs massacre

By Thomas Scripps, 30 April 2020

The job losses will devastate tens of thousands and are a warning to workers of the economic “reconstruction” being prepared by the ruling elite in the wake of the pandemic.

Profits before human life: German parliament president Schäuble wins broad support in the establishment

By Peter Schwarz, 30 April 2020

The German ruling class is marking the 75th anniversary of Hitler’s suicide in the Führer bunker by discussing how many human lives should be sacrificed in the coronavirus crisis.

Millions of US workers blocked from applying for jobless benefits

By Kevin Reed, 29 April 2020

An Economic Policy Institute survey shows that the real number of unemployed workers in the US is far higher than the official 26.5 million who have filed unemployment claims.

Round two of the “Paycheck Protection Program”: Another disaster for US small businesses and their employees

By Barry Grey, 29 April 2020

The abortive start of the second round of the “small business” program demonstrated that the vast majority of small businesses and their employees will receive little or nothing in relief from the economic collapse.

Trump orders meatpacking workers back on the job as opposition mounts to back-to-work campaign

By Niles Niemuth, 29 April 2020

US President Donald Trump’s executive order invoking the Defense Production Act to force employees at meatpacking plants back to work marks a new stage in his administration’s confrontation with the working class.

Classical musicians, orchestras and opera companies confront COVID-19 lockdown

By Fred Mazelis, 29 April 2020

Freelance and younger musicians are especially hard hit by cancellations and shutdowns.

New York state’s economy spirals into the abyss under the effects of COVID-19

By Philip Guelpa, 28 April 2020

A new study projects that the economic impact to New York state of the pandemic will reach $243 billion and it will take three years until a “full recovery.”

The Great Wall Street Heist of 2020

By Joseph Kishore—SEP candidate for US president, 28 April 2020

2020 will go down not only as the year of the coronavirus pandemic but also as the year of the greatest act of thievery and plunder yet perpetrated by the corporate and financial oligarchy.

US billionaires increase wealth by $280 billion since March, as millions are unable to get unemployment benefits

By Gabriel Black, 27 April 2020

The wealth of the ultra-rich has surged since the March stock market slump, as the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic further concentrates the wealth of society.

The deadly return to work begins

By Marcus Day, 27 April 2020

From Georgia to Minnesota, US states are beginning to ease social distancing measures and reopen businesses this week, despite the growing death toll from COVID-19.

US unemployment up 26 million in five weeks

By Evan Blake, 24 April 2020

With an additional 4.4 million Americans filing for unemployment last week, a total of 26 million people have filed for unemployment over the past five weeks.

Thousands of jobs on the line after Virgin Australia goes into administration

By Terry Cook, 24 April 2020

The announcement by Virgin Australia, the country’s second largest domestic carrier, threatens at least 15,000 jobs.

“Back to work” campaign in the US will lead to surge in coronavirus deaths

By Joseph Kishore, 24 April 2020

The American ruling class is attempting to rapidly resume production and send workers back to work. If this policy is carried out, countless thousands more people will get gravely sick or die.

As US governors rush to reopen businesses, “Excess death” counts begin to reveal true toll of pandemic

By Bryan Dyne, 23 April 2020

A series of reports have shown that the real death toll from the coronavirus in many parts of the United States and Europe is likely at least twice what has been officially reported.

Oil price plunge continues

By Nick Beams, 22 April 2020

Trump has indicated government bailout measures for the industry may be forthcoming after his failed attempt to halt the price slide by having Russia and Saudi Arabia cut production.

Real jobless rate could reach 30 percent in Australia

By Mike Head, 22 April 2020

Low-paid workers are twice as likely to be thrown out of work as high-income people in the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Grattan Institute.

Oil price contracts take historic plunge into negative territory

By Nick Beams, 21 April 2020

The price at the close of trading was -$37.63 compared with $18.36 a barrel on Friday—the first time oil prices have gone into negative territory.

US farm relief program hands billions to agribusiness while millions lack food

By Alex Findijs, 21 April 2020

The farm relief program will protect the profits of the ruling class, while farmers are dumping produce because the distribution chain has been disrupted.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of economic nationalism

By Nick Beams, 21 April 2020

The pandemic has made clear that the tiny minority of corporate and financial oligarchs, and the profit system over which they preside, stand as an obstacle to the rational organisation and scientific planning of the economy and society necessary to deal with the threat to human life.

Amazon workers in Italy strike over coronavirus cover-up

Worker resistance grows internationally as governments push premature return to work

By Shannon Jones, 18 April 2020

The reckless drive by the Trump administration and governments in Europe to resume production despite health warnings will produce a social explosion.

Chinese economy contracted by 6.8 percent in first quarter

By Nick Beams, 18 April 2020

The announcement of the plunge in China came just days after the IMF forecast that the world economy will experience a $9 trillion loss of output over 2020-21.

Bangladesh garment workers strike against COVID-19 job and wage cuts; Australian maritime union ends strike over COVID-19 at Hutchison Ports

Workers Struggles: Asia and Australia

18 April 2020

The World Socialist Web Site invites workers and other readers to contribute to this regular feature.

Steep fall in US economy and worse is to come

By Nick Beams, 16 April 2020

Any notion that there will be a rapid economic recovery once the immediate effects of the pandemic pass is being dispelled.

Unemployment already at Great Depression levels in Australia

By Mike Head, 16 April 2020

A record 3.92 million workers, or 27.4 percent, were either unemployed or under-employed by the end of March.

World economy to take biggest hit since Great Depression

By Nick Beams, 15 April 2020

The IMF’s “baseline scenario” is that the world economy will lose $9 trillion in 2020 and 2021, equivalent to the combined economic output of Germany and Japan.

With anger mounting over pandemic response, unions make pitch to save American capitalism

By Jerry White, 15 April 2020

In a joint comment published by USA Today, the leaders of four major unions urge corporate America to use their services to “restore profits and economic growth.”

Canada’s coronavirus wage-subsidy tailored to propping up business, not protecting workers’ incomes

By Roger Jordan, 14 April 2020

The trade unions and NDP have once again rallied to the support of the Trudeau government, whose response to the pandemic has focussed on bailing out the banks and big business so as to safeguard the wealth and investments of the capitalist elite.

European Union to spend half a trillion euros on imperialist interests in coronavirus bailout

By Peter Schwarz, 13 April 2020

After two days of bitter disputes, the EU finance ministers agreed on a coronavirus bailout worth €500 billion.

Last-minute deal on oil production cuts

By Nick Beams, 13 April 2020

The fear was that had an agreement not been reached the oil price would have crashed when trading opened today, after already dropping by 40 percent since the beginning of March.

African economies in free fall as coronavirus pandemic worsens

By Stephan McCoy, 11 April 2020

An African Union study predicts that some 20 million jobs are at risk in Africa due to the impact of the pandemic.

Wolves guard the hen house: Who is overseeing the $2 trillion stimulus package?

By Genevieve Leigh, 11 April 2020

The mechanisms established to manage stimulus money primarily exist to bail out the major corporations, further enrich the banks, and to secure Wall Street.

International Labour Organisation warns of massive job losses from COVID-19

By Nick Beams, 10 April 2020

According to the International Labour Organisation, the COVID-19 crisis is expected to wipe out 6.7 percent of total working hours globally in the second quarter of this year—equivalent to 195 million full-time workers.

Bailout of US corporations expands while workers see little relief

By Barry Grey, 9 April 2020

While billions have already flowed to the corporations and banks, the limited provisions of the bailout law touted as a boon to working people have yet to kick in, and for millions they likely never will.

Labor and the unions help push corporate bailout through Australian parliament

By Mike Head, 9 April 2020

The main thrust of the bills is to allow employers to cut wages, working hours and other working conditions.

US automakers planning return to work before coronavirus danger subsides

By Tom Hall and Jessica Goldstein, 8 April 2020

Automakers are planning a return to work that would endanger workers and their families.

Unions agree to salary furlough at British Airways

By Paul Bond, 8 April 2020

The Unite union claims it has secured BA’s agreement that no worker will be laid off without pay, and that there will be no redundancies, at least temporarily.

Sri Lanka: Billions to big business as government prepares new attacks on working people

By Saman Gunadasa, 8 April 2020

No meaningful government funds have been provided for personal protection equipment for health workers, ventilators for patients or kits for mass coronavirus testing.

Fiction, reality and the global crisis of capitalism

By Joseph Kishore and David North, 7 April 2020

As the death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic mounted on Monday, a mood of uncontrollable euphoria prevailed among investors on Wall Street.

Share buybacks have been the “only net source of money entering the stock market” since 2008

By Nick Beams, 7 April 2020

A report published in the Wall Street Journal reveals that one of the main reasons for the cash shortage of major corporations, now lining up for a bailout, is the trillions of dollars they have spent on share buybacks to boost the fortunes of the ultra-wealthy.

US jobless numbers head toward Depression levels

By Nick Beams, 4 April 2020

The official March data, showing job losses of 701,000, are a significant underestimation since they are based on surveys conducted before widespread lockdowns were in place.

UK corporations scramble for coronavirus bailout funds

By Paul Bond, 4 April 2020

The £350 billion bailout is an unprecedented financial handout to UK corporations, conducted without even the rubber stamp of a parliamentary vote.

Canadian government’s bailout increases banks’ control over economy and state

By Roger Jordan, 4 April 2020

Canada’s Liberal government is funnelling hundreds of billions of dollars to the banks and major corporations to guarantee the wealth of the capitalist elite.

Banks set to make billions from stimulus measures

By Nick Beams, 3 April 2020

Banks, lobby groups, major legal firms and hedge funds are all striving to get their slice of the largest corporate and financial bailout in history.

For emergency action against the destruction of jobs! Full financial and social support for all working people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic!

Joseph Kishore—Socialist Equality Party candidate for US president, 3 April 2020

All sections of the working class must be fully compensated for the economic consequences of the pandemic.

Stock market sell-off resumes

By Nick Beams, 2 April 2020

The renewed market downturn followed statements by President Trump that US deaths from the coronavirus could be 240,000 while hinting that the toll could be even higher.

Airlines, auto companies cut pay even as US government bails out corporations

By Shannon Jones, 1 April 2020

While prepared to pocket tens of billions of dollars in federal bailout money, US airlines and automakers are imposing pay cuts and furloughs on employees.

As Wall Street finishes worst quarter since 2008

Financial turbulence continues to grow

By Nick Beams, 1 April 2020

While COVID-19 was the trigger it was not the underlying cause, as the financial system was set to crash due to the dizzy rise of the markets divorced from the real economy.

Canada’s governments exempt sections of industry from lockdowns, imperilling workers’ lives

By Roger Jordan, 1 April 2020

Placing profits before workers’ lives, Ontario and Quebec have declared businesses “essential” that have nothing to do with providing healthcare, food, power or other life necessities.

Quebec tries to extort concessions from health care and other public sector workers

By Laurent Lafrance, 1 April 2020

By offering their “full cooperation” to the CAQ government during the coronavirus pandemic, the unions have opened the door for an intensified state attack on public sector workers.

COVID-19 pandemic leads to mass sackings in Australia

By Martin Scott, 1 April 2020

Unemployment is likely to rise above 15 percent as hundreds of thousands of workers lose their jobs.

As US cases of COVID-19 surpass all other countries

Trump’s “Get back to work” demagogy aids the spread of the pandemic

By Joseph Kishore, 27 March 2020

Amidst an expanding pandemic, which is still in its early stages, the Trump administration is intensifying its efforts to force a return to work, which would endanger the lives of millions of workers.

New US unemployment claims hit 3.28 million as pandemic produces economic catastrophe

By Shannon Jones, 27 March 2020

The number of new weekly claims for state unemployment benefits reached the staggering total of 3.28 million, an increase of 1,000 percent over the previous week, and the largest such total in history.

Wall Street rise continues as coronavirus infections accelerate

By Nick Beams, 27 March 2020

The extreme volatility of the markets is such that the Dow, having entered a bear market—defined as a fall of 20 percent—has now returned to bull market status, all in the space of just six weeks.

Bipartisan corporate bailout gives $17 billion to Boeing

By Bryan Dyne, 27 March 2020

The top executives who oversaw the cost-cutting, layoffs and cover-ups that resulted in two crashes and the deaths of 346 people are being rewarded with billions in taxpayer money.

US Senate passes massive economic “rescue” bill

By Patrick Martin, 26 March 2020

The $2 trillion bill allocates the bulk of its funds to loans and grants to corporations and businesses, with some emergency aid to workers.

German investor Dibelius: Big business must take priority over health care

By Peter Schwarz, 26 March 2020

It will only be a matter of days before Dibelius and his ilk will demand that workers who refuse to risk their health by going back to work should be forced to do so.

Wall Street surges on prospect of government corporate bailouts

By Nick Beams, 25 March 2020

Markets were also boosted by Trump’s push to have major lockdowns lifted regardless of the health consequences for the mass of the population.

Message from big business on coronavirus pandemic: Save profits, not lives

By Andre Damon, 24 March 2020

As the death toll from the coronavirus soars and hospitals fill up, the White House and the US media are insisting that the profits of the corporate-financial elite must take precedence over the lives of millions.

Germany: Appalling lack of protective equipment in COVID-19 outbreak

By Markus Salzmann, 24 March 2020

It is still virtually impossible to be tested for the life-threatening virus and there is a lack of protective marks and other urgently needed equipment for health care workers.

US Fed unveils further massive financial intervention

By Nick Beams, 24 March 2020

The central bank’s program of quantitative easing, involving the purchases of government bonds, is now virtually unlimited.

US Congress moves toward massive bailout of big business

By Patrick Martin, 24 March 2020

The wrangling between Democrats and Republicans in Washington is political theater to disguise the highway robbery being carried out by corporate America.

Michigan issues statewide lockdown, exempting auto industry as “critical infrastructure”

By Tom Hall, 24 March 2020

The order exempts “critical manufacturing” as defined by the federal Department of Homeland Security, setting the stage for a return to work in the plants weeks before the lockdown order expires.

Boeing closes Seattle-area plants after worker’s coronavirus death

By Hector Cordon, 24 March 2020

Two weeks after the first emergence of a coronavirus infection in its Everett, Washington, plant, Boeing has shut down production in the region.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ message to warehouse workers: Keep working despite coronavirus threat

By Nick Barrickman, 24 March 2020

After strikes by US and European Amazon workers over the danger to their health, the company’s billionaire CEO feigned concern while insisting that workers keep pumping out profits.