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AltAusterity Digest #88 February 28-March 6, 2019

This week in Austerity News:

Mar 08, 2019

Last week, the OECD released a working paper about the slowing improvements in life expectancy amongst high-income countries. The report mentions that economic downturns and austerity are associated with worse mental health outcomes and rising suicide rates, but that “the impact on overall mortality is less consistent.” Their evidence for this claim relates primarily to the assertion that overall wealthier, and less austere northern European countries such as Germany, Sweden and Netherlands have seen a greater slowdown in life expectancy improvement than countries more severely hit by austerity measures such as Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland. Despite the OECD’s reservations about relating austerity to decreasing mortality improvements, they do go on to claim that austerity does impact negatively on health directly by cuts to healthcare services and coverage, and indirectly by increasing the “social risk effect” brought on by rising unemployment, poverty and homelessness.

Jason Kenney, of Alberta’s United Conservative Party has said that, if elected, his party would reduce the corporate tax rate to 8% by 2022. Calling it a “job creation tax cut,” Kenney promised to lower the rate by 1 percent each year in office from its current rate of 12%. To offset the predicted yearly loss of $348 million in revenues, Kenney has said he would cancel crude transportation contracts with CP Rail and CN Rail. Despite the continual real-world failings of trickle-down economics over the past four decades, Kenny’s economic advisors’ models have predicted that these cuts will lead to increases in investment, GDP and take-home pay for families. Kenney has also stated that if elected, his government will dismantle the carbon tax introduced by the provincial NDP.  

Oakland teachers have ended a seven-day strike with a negotiated settlement including pay increases, decreasing counselor and other support worker caseloads and decreasing class sizes. After the successful strike, the union has sad that they will continue to fight for increased classroom funding, an end to school closures in black and Latino communities and a ban on school privatization through charter schools. Within the 36,000-pupil district, almost three-quarters of the students quality for free or reduced lunches. During the strike the teachers’ union, East Bay Democratic Socialists of America as well as volunteers and private donors helped feed students. The Oakland teachers’ strike is the most recent in a wave of US teachers strikes.

A slowdown in the Eurozone has increased speculation that the European Central Bank (ECB) will have to act to stop a slowdown from becoming a recession. With global trade on shaky footing and the uncertainty around Brexit, the ECB may again have to engage in stimulus spending after only just ending a quantitative easing program in December. Growth is predicted to slow to 1.3% in 2019 with industrial output and exports shrinking, leading to the prediction that commercial banks will start to restrict credit. Despite these structural issues, the ECB has maintained that the dip in growth is temporary. The central bank’s decision on interest rates going forward is due at 1245 GMT on Wednesday.

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.