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Global Recession: The world is talking. Are we listening?

There is no lack of online articles about the various aspects of the global economic crisis. Many of them are written by economic experts and policymakers. What about the perspectives of ordinary bloggers? What about those who do not write in English? This global roundup of blogs gathers stories of people around the world who are struggling to survive the economic downturn. This article will highlight the views of bloggers about the recession, identify the different manifestations of the crisis in several countries, and illustrate how the deteriorating economy is affecting the global society as a whole. This post complements the five other articles of this series on the global crisis.

Crisis indicators

The recession in the United States and Europe is affecting the garments industry of Bangladesh. Many factory workers were laid-off because of reduced production. Another industry which is suffering is the shrimp sector, the second biggest export item of Bangladesh. The economic problems of other Asian nations are also causing a problem for Bangladesh. As the shipping business weakens in Singapore, many of its Bangladesh migrant workers are sent home. Malaysia has also decided to hire unemployed local workers first before recruiting foreigners. This is bad news for Bangladesh migrant workers whose main country of destination is Malaysia.

In Kazakhstan Alim-atenbek writes about a crisis last winter in the industrial town of Stepnogorsk where heating, electricity and water supply were cut off for nearly a week.

It is a pity to read such things about the once prosperous town. Instead of investing in reconstruction of the obsolete infrastructure, we had been building glazing skyscrapers in [the new capital of Kazakhstan] Astana, which are now standing empty. Seemingly, after the financial crisis, the infrastructure crisis is looming – and, eventually, the political one.

Kazakhstan’s currency was devalued last February. The economic impact was immediately felt by its citizens. According to blogger Katelka

We became 25% poorer. Lately the salaries of budget-paid employees and pensions were increased by 25%, and now this raise is eaten up. I have friends who get paid in KZT, but their mortgage is in dollars… Many shops change their price-lists. In large food supermarkets people were running around with trolleys and sweeping away everything: cereals-butter-pasta, informs

The collapse of the dram is also a major sign of the global economic crisis in Armenia. It has created a lot of panic in the country.

In Hong Kong the financial crisis is blamed mostly on Financial Secretary John Tsang. There are 20 Facebook roups protesting against him. The biggest group (with more than 10,000 members) is asking John Tsang to receive a HKD4000 salary per month because of his subsidy plan encouraging companies to hire university graduate with a minimum wage of HKD4000.

In Cebu province of the Philippines, the DYAB Abante Bisaya's radio program, Pulso, asked its viewers about their thoughts on the financial crisis. Here are some of their answers:

Kaniadto, mag-awto gyod ko. Karon mag jeep na ko. Seven rides gud ko padulong sa trabahoan. Kay ang akong suweldo kuwang ra man. Mahal baya ang maintenance sa awto. Mag-awto na lang ko kon kusog kaayo ang uwan. Gikan ni Chona sa Lapulapu City;

Ang krisis dugay na gyod nako nabatyagan kay kani-adto moingon ko nga way kuarta, akong pitaka naa pa nay tinipigan nga bag-o ug way pilo gikan sa P20 ngadto sa P1,000, pero kon moingon nga way kuwarta, aw sus as in wala gyod,. Gikan ni Rollie sa Talisay City;

Krisis na gyod kay sa pag-abli namo sa tindahan nag-una ang utang kay sa cash. Gikan ni Oslec;

Nakabatyag na mi sa krisis kay daghan nang bakante sa boarding houses diri sa Opon. Gikan ni Mr. Baguio.

Before, I always use the car. Now I ride the jeep (public transportation). I take seven rides going to work. My salary is not enough. Car maintenance is expensive. I only use the car when the rain is very heavy. From Chona of Lapulapu City; 

I noticed the crisis long ago because before when I say there's no money, my wallet still have new P20 to P1,000 bills, but now when I say there's no money, there really is nothing. From Rollie of Talisay City;

It's really crisis because when we opened the store the debts came first before the cash. From Oslec;

We already experienced the crisis because there are many vacancies in the boarding houses here in Opon. From Mr. Baguio

Struggling migrants

In a previous post, I mentioned about Brazilian migrants who are living in the streets of Japan. A video clip from a Fuji TV news report narrates the story of Sidival Furuzawa Pereira, a homeless man in Hamamatsu, Japan.

Below is a summary of the video:

Mr. Pereira spends his days checking trash heaps for aluminum cans and junk he can bring to recycling centers and exchange for money. At the beginning of the clip, he takes a full bicycle load of old appliances and exchanges them for 350 yen (about $3). Instead of using the money on himself, he saves it so he can send it to his wife and children in Brazil. As a result, Pereira eats food he finds in the garbage.

The clip ends with Pereira making a phone call to his family on January 1st. They ask him to come home, but he tells them he is determined to stay in Japan and earn money to help them.

Mako explains why he left Paraguay for Spain

En mi caso particular me vine a España porque estaba totalmente arruinado económicamente; de tener una bodega, un bar y una despensa, en pocos años terminamos en ruina, cada vez se vendia menos, la venta callejera que vendia mas barato sin pagar impuestos, el pago de alquiler, personal y las ventas cayeron a pique, y los servicios
públicos cada vez mas caros…

Claro que los extraño, extraño mi casa, mis parientes, mis perros, y extraño mucho el tomar tereré sin la menor prisa bajo el mango, como si el tiempo no existiera, extraño a mis parientes en las navidades, cumpleaños, bodas o el simple hecho de reunirnos a comer tallarin con pollo un domingo.

In my particular case, I came to Spain because I was ruined economically; I had a wine shop, bar and a neighborhood store, and in no time I was in ruins, I sold less and less, the street vendors sold items cheaper without paying taxes, rent, personnel, and my sales went down and the public services were more and more expensive…. 

Of course I miss (my family), I miss my house, my relatives, my dogs, and I miss drinking tereré (herbal water) under the mango tree and having no hurry, as if time did not exist, I miss my relatives during Christmastime, birthdays, weddings or the simple act of getting together to eat chicken with noodles on a Sunday

Unemployment

Job losses continue to worsen throughout the world. The rising unemployment rate is the most familiar sign of the global recession. Even profitable companies are shedding jobs. Barbados Underground sees this trend in Barbados

There is something very strange which has started to unfold in Barbados and around the Caribbean in recent weeks. Many of our leading and PROFITABLE companies have been sending home workers.

It borders on criminal that PROFITABLE companies would cut loyal employees who would have contributed to the success of these companies.

Why would profitable companies in Barbados and in the Caribbean rush in indecent haste to dismiss employees? Over the years when the times were good would it not have been caring for those PROFITABLE companies to set aside a reserve to provide for employees in less profitable times like now?

Bloggers around the world are also providing suggestions on how to overcome unemployment. Charoenchai Chaipiboolwong, an economist blogger from Thailand believes that nurturing creativity is important for individuals seeking jobs

The best solution is not the pricing war since it will harm everyone in the market but to find the “value added” in our products. If you are just employee, then find the “value added” in your skill instead.

The only way to “add the value” is via creativity. Creativity brings differentiation from competitors

In South Korea a letter written by a father to his son who is encountering difficulty finding a job today has inspired other netizens. This letter has been linked and cited by many bloggers in the country. An excerpt of the letter:

“…원망하고 질책을 하기엔 너무 늦어 버렸다…
성공한 사람일수록 진실 되어야 후환이 없는 법이다
부디 명심 하거라—평생을 살아온 경험에서 얻은 이야기니—
경제 어려운것 열심히 노력 하면 반드시 좋아질 날이 있다
하지만 그것은 여러 사람들의 노력이듯 자신들의 몫이기도 하니까…”

“….It is too late to resent and reproach…. Successful people should be honest, otherwise they will face troubles later. Please bear it in mind….It is from my life experiences… You can overcome a difficult economic situation if you work hard. A good day will definitely come. 

As it is from efforts from many people, it is also from your own effort….”

A labor activist in Taiwan criticizes commentaries which blame unemployed individuals while ignoring the shortcomings of the social system:

台灣的失業工人之所以會獨自走向貧窮、燒炭的命運,很大部分正是因為我們長期把失業當成個別勞工的錯誤與罪過,卻錯失集體面對、思考制度結構嚴重缺損的問題。如何透過這次因權貴階級把玩資本遊戲,而讓無辜勞工承擔痛苦的大失業潮,讓大眾至少能在「失業不只是我的錯」這個共識下,思考並推動妥善處理失業創傷的制度療法,才是一個正確的理絡,絕對不該再走回高唱勞工自我調適、增值的老路上。

The reason why Taiwanese unemployed workers have to face poverty alone and commit suicide by burning coals is, for the most part, that we always treat unemployment as a fault and error of individual labour, while we fail to collectively face and reflect upon the serious shortcomings of social system and structure. We should make it clear that it is the power elites’ capital game that leads to massive unemployment and people's suffering, hence, to reach a public consensus that “I lost my job and it is not just my fault”. Such consensus is the base for further reflection and advocacy for a systematic cure that can deal with the pain of unemployment. We should not go back to the old way that asks workers to adjust themselves and increase their own value.

Dissent

In China workers who lost their jobs in state-controlled factories are organizing protest actions. In Baoding, Hebei, about 6000 workers are on strike, as their factory was sold and they would be soon laid off. They marched to Beijing to present a mass petition. This action worried others because it might heighten political instability. Blogger 阿丁 (A-Ding) commented on this attitude

有人担心工人们冲动而打砸抢,就别鸡巴瞎操心了——罢工不过是工人们为了自身权益采取的诉求方式,工人们比你们理智。几乎每一次暴力事件,都是统治者高高在上,不肯疏浚民怨、强奸公正和暴力压制的结果

Someone is worrying that the workers might sabotage and rob; it is not necessary at all- strike is just a method for the workers to protect their rights and interest. They are far more rational than you might think. Almost every violent incident is but the result of what the rulers have done, that they dominate with privilege, ignore public grief and suppress with violence.

Conclusion

This completes our initial series on the global economic crisis. The first post deals with the crisis in general and the discontent it is creating around the world. The second post reviews some of the bailout and stimulus plans of select countries. The third post identifies some survival tips and business opportunities related to the recession. The fourth post highlights the impact of global job losses and the situation of returning migrant workers. Countries which claim to be unaffected by the financial crisis are the focus of the fifth post.

Readers may notice that the articles in this series rarely mention recession stories in the U.S. While recognizing the serious economic challenges faced by the U.S., this series invites the public to study how the recession is shaping and reshaping societies in the world. We want our readers to appreciate how the recession in the U.S. is creating old and new problems around the globe. Many bloggers are providing alternative and insightful views on the crisis. Part of solving the problem is to encourage a global conversation on the economic crisis. This series is a contribution to jumpstart this global conversation.

Thumbnail image used from the Flickr account of *LJ*. The Russian quote was translated by Adil Nurmakov. The Bisaya quote was translated by Karlo Mongaya. The Spanish quote was translated by Eduardo Avila. The Thai quote was translated by Markpeak. The Korean quote was translated by Hyejin Kim. The quote from Taiwan was translated by Portnoy. The quote from China was translated by Bob Chen
  • http://www.renonvrealestateagent.com Chris

    Great post – let’s all hope that this crisis has reached a point of inflection.

  • Pingback: The world is talking. Are we listening? « Blogocrats

  • opa

    for the loving of your Christian God, all these job losses, high inflation look normal in other country and in China they have to be associated with political instability, dissents?

    damn retards

  • http://www.southasiablog.com/ Razib Ahmed

    Thanks for the entry. I could get a good idea about the global crisis. Well, things are getting tough for most counties and there is hardly any hope now that the recession will finish in 2009

  • Overseas Chinese

    Great Article.

    It is amazing to think how many experts and think-tanks make comments of recovery when it was those same people who never saw the collapse of global capitalism coming nor mentioned of the many reasons of why it fell prior to the collapse. Moreover, it is very interesting that the call for advice on how to remedy this global crises are going to those same experts and think-tanks and not to those brave souls who dared to challenge the global capitalist system for many years prior.

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