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AltAusterity Digest #74 November 15-21, 2018

This week in Austerity News:

Nov 23, 2018

Recent events have demonstrated the reemergence of the International Monetary Fund’s influence in Latin America. Last week Argentina’s legislature approved a budget for the 2019 fiscal year that will cut social spending by as much as 35% and increase debt service payments by 50%. The budget is being implemented with IMF policy recommendations following a loan from the IMF to Argentina worth $56 billion. The IMF also released a special country report on Mexico last week advising president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador that his administration should refrain from any major structural changes to Mexico’s economy. In the IMF Article 4 Staff Statement, Mexican authorities were particularly warned against any move that would increase Mexican control over its domestic oil reserves.

An article for Jacobin discusses how austerity’s primary purpose has been to discipline workers, and that its continued use has never been about contributing to economic growth. Despite the mounting evidence that shows restraining wages and converting welfare to workfare does not contribute to stable economic growth, the EU and European states have yet to move away from austerity policies. The authors of the article make the case that the restructuring of labour markets under austerity serve as methods of class discipline.

The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales told MPs on Tuesday that successive cuts to the Ministry of Justice have undermined the functioning of the judiciary. The Ministry of Justice has been one of the government departments that has seen the greatest reduction in funding as its budget has been cut nearly 40% since 2010. Aside from problems recruiting High Court judges, cuts have resulted in a sharp reduction in the provision of legal aid, resulting in an increase in the number of people representing themselves in court because they cannot afford lawyers.

For The Washington Post, Maria Snegovaya discusses her research on the shift of blue-collar voters from the center-left to the populist right in Central Europe. While Snegovaya’s research focuses on two particular cases – Hungary and Poland – a similar trend can be seen across Europe and North America. What the findings suggest is that the degree to which leftist parties embrace pro-market liberalization and austerity is correlated with the transfer of blue-collar votes to the populist right. Another implication may be that new left parties that campaign with “traditional” left platforms, such as Smer in Slovakia and Podemos in Spain, will be more likely to have electoral success than their center-left counterparts.

That's it for this week's Digest! Check back next Friday morning for another edition, or subscribe to our newsletter for a weekly roundup. We'll also Tweet each time we add new content, so you can keep up with our work @AltAusterity and join the #altausterity conversation!