Ann Pettifor is the Director of Jubilee Research at the New Economics Foundation in London. She is co-founder and Director of the international Jubilee 2000 Coalition in Britain. Her work advocating the establishment of Jubilee 2000 across the world has resulted in a powerful global campaign: Jubilee 2000 is now organised in over 60 countries. She has written extensively on international debt issues. She is also editor of “The Real World Economic Outlook”, an alternative to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook. (See on Resurgence).
She says: “You know, the anti-corporate left sometimes gets it wrong. They focus on what they can see and touch, which is trade. And because the international financial regime isn’t visible, it isn’t attacked. But in reality, it has a much greater power of determination than trade” … “It’s not McDonald’s or Nike that rule our world, at least they make things, but the international giants of the banking world like J.P. Morgan Chase and Citigroup. The problem with globalization lies in the liberalization of capital flows, [not] trade flows. Those who own capital operate in a global economy detached from real political, social and environmental relations. And this detachment has not come about accidentally, it is a result of “structural imbalances” that have been deliberately constructed by those in power”. (Read all on ‘In these Times‘ … see also their Homepage).
Ann Pettifor – England
Listen to her 5 1/2 minutes talk on Big Pictures (recorded in November 2004). She talks about the Jubilee 2000 debt relief campaign – the largest and most successful campaign in history to cancel third world debt. She explains how the debt crisis came about and describes how capital flows have reversed direction in recent years.
In effect, rich countries are currently being financed by the poorer nations of the developing world – quite the reverse of the post-war model. She links this to the instability witnessed in much of the developing world today. She finishes by suggesting that if the unfair economics behind third world debt are not addressed, then the backlash among poor nations will continue to grow.
Read: Ann Pettifor tells the inside story of how Nigeria convinced the world it was a good bet for debt relief.
She says in an interview: “In Jubilee 2000 we don’t talk about forgiving the debt, because the word forgiveness in this context implies that the debtor is entirely at fault and needs to be forgiven.We make a very strong point that debt is both the responsibility of the lender and also of the debtor — both sides are responsible. Every day on Wall Street banks have to write off debts. It’s a matter of economic reality and is absolutely vital to the economic health of the nation that banks accept that some debts will never get paid and that some businesses and some individuals just simply have to be given a chance to start again. But although in everyday life this is something we take for granted, in the international financial system there is no law governing regulations between debtors and creditors. So creditors can keep debts on the books ad infinitum. And just as in Dickensian times it was possible to put people in jail and starve them to death if they didn’t pay their debts, so today, instead of having debtors’ prisons for people, we have debtors’ prisons for countries. When we did it in the 19th century we found that it was economically counter-productive to starve people because the effect was that we were unable to collect the debts. Furthermore, they did not play a productive part in the economy. In exactly the same way it is unproductive to drain the poorest countries of all their resources, because we will still never collect the debts and they will never be able to play a productive part in the global economy”. (Read the whole interview on The witness).
Read ther article: How redistribution works, by Ann Pettifor. A year after Gleneagles, the rich nations are still hoovering up much more from the world’s poor than they are lending or giving. July 14, 2006.
She writes: “The ‘Jubilee Framework’ for international insolvency proposes that when a nation’s debts can be repaid only at a cost to the fundamental human rights of the population, it should be able to file for protection from its creditors, rather like Chapter 11 in the United States. An ad hoc court would then negotiate a settlement between the debtor nation and its creditors. The judge would be a third party nominated by both the debtor and creditor and, crucially, citizens would be entitled to participate in the legal proceedings. The IMF, it appears, isn’t thinking quite as radically. It doesn’t support the idea of a third-party judge, for example, and it believes it should retain a central role in any process, despite its creditor status. But Pettifor is encouraged by what she has heard so far. “The top level of management [at the IMF] has been cleared out, and they are now willing to think new thoughts and admit that mistakes have been made”. (Read the whole long article on In these Times).
Read: Arbitration, insolvency and limited liability: their relevance to debtor nations, by Ann Pettifor.
Advocacy International Director included in “The Good List” compiled by the UK’s Independent newspaper. The Good List was compiled by Paddy Coulter of the Reuters Foundation, Caroline Diehl of the Media Trust, Fiona Fox of the Science Media Centre, Geoffrey Lean and Paul Vallely of The Independent and consists of 50 people who “share a commitment to improving lives and changing attitudes”. The judges wrote: “Pettifor was the genius behind the Jubilee 2000 campaign that in 1999 pressurised the rich world to write off more than $100bn of the world’s 42 poorest nations’ debts. Using her background as a commercial lobbyist in the energy and retail sectors she built an anti-debt coalition of 90 organisations in 50 countries… Pettifor had the communication skills and tireless energy to transform a good idea into political reality. She created the first worldwide petition, with 24 million signatures and built a “big tent coalition” including Bill Clinton, Gerhard Schroeder, the Pope, the Dalai Lama, Mohammed Ali, Bono and thousands of international policy makers. She forced big changes”. September 1, 2006. (Read this on this page of Advocacy International).