Interviews Available on Major Economic Stories:
* Fast Track and O'Neill in Latin America * Enron's Global Crimes * Miners' Safety
- August 5 -
Co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Weisbrot wrote the
article "Economists in Denial" in today's Washington Post. He said this
afternoon: "[Treasury Secretary Paul] O'Neill is visiting countries in the grip
of serious economic and financial crisis: Argentina's economy has collapsed, and
Brazil is headed toward default on its debt. And this comes at the end of a long
period of economic failure: over the last 20 years, the income of the average
Latin American has barely grown -- by 7 percent -- as compared to 75 percent growth
over the previous 20 years (1960-1980). In the United States, the failure has
been distributional: despite considerable economic growth, the median wage here
is barely above what it was 29 years ago. Granting fast-track authority to pursue
more of the same polices is not going to help. It is time for policy-makers to
ask some serious questions about what has gone wrong."
The front page of today's Wall Street Journal features an article headlined:
"Enron Criminal Probe Focuses on Alleged Corruption Abroad." The piece cites Wysham,
a fellow with the Institute for Policy Studies and author of "Enron's Pawns: How
Public Institutions Bankrolled Enron's Globalization Game." As detailed in the
article, the Justice Department's previously undisclosed inquiry into possible
violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by Enron examines Enron's efforts
to win foreign pipeline, power and water-privatization projects, some reaching
as far back as the mid-1990s. Although Enron has declared bankruptcy for its domestic
operations, much of its overseas operations remain intact, thanks to long-term
financial backing from U.S. taxpayer-financed institutions, such as the Overseas
Private Investment Corporation, the World Bank, the U.S. Export-Import Bank, and
the Inter-American Development Bank. Wysham said this afternoon: "These public
agencies still have not been held accountable for their roles in Enron's continued
activity abroad, which is the real scandal here. In this era of globalization,
public agencies are selling out public resources for the private gain of CEOs
and their collaborators. Bribery and other forms of corruption and coercion are
the rule, not the exception, in many development projects abroad. Enron is not
just one rotten apple; the whole barrel of government-corporate collusion in development
contracts is rotten, and is forcing developing countries to accept deals that
are not in their, or our, long-term interest."
CECIL E. ROBERTS, via Doug
Gibson, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.umwa.org
George W. Bush spoke at a celebration of the miners' rescue in Pennsylvania today.
Roberts, international president of the United Mine Workers of America, pointed
out a number of policies the administration has pursued that are harmful to the
well-being of miners.
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