The Global Economy – The Facts


More than $1.5 trillion changes hands daily on global currency markets.

. The annual global trade in merchandise and services was $6.5 billion in 1998, the equivalent of just 4.3 days of trading on foreign exchange (forex) markets. . Actual foreign exchange reserves in the hands of all governments in the same year totalled $1.6 trillion or just over a day's trading on forex markets. . An estimated 95% of all forex deals are short-term speculation; more than 80% are completed in less than a week and 40% in less than two days. . The amount of private financial flows entering poor nations exploded from $44 billion in 1990 to $256 billion in 1997.4


Huge global corporations are becoming ever more powerful, eroding the regulatory powers of nation-states and riding roughshod over the rights of citizens to determine their own future.


The Asian financial meltdown had far-reaching human costs.^1^

Thai worker demonstrates against his country’s falling currency.

Chris Stowers / Panos Pictures

. Indonesia - number of poor increased by 40 million people or 20% of the population. . Malaysia - 435 firms went bankrupt from July 1997 to March 1998. . Korea - Unemployment climbed to 1.5 million and average real wages fell by nearly 10%. . Thailand - An estimated 100,000 students have quit school as a result of higher school fees.

  • *Source: 1* _Human Development Report 1999_, UN Development Programme/Oxford University Press. *2* 'Giant Corporations Dwarf States', Ignacio Ramonet, _Le Monde Diplomatique_, June 1998. *3* _Shifting Fortunes: The Perils of the Growing Wealth Gap in America, United for A Fair Economy_, Boston, 1999. *4* _The Global Gamblers, British Banks and the Foreign Exchange Game_, War on Want, 1999. *5* _'50 Years is Enough'_ Website . *6* _People's Tribunal on Debt Statement_, Jubilee 2000 Brazil Committee, São Paulo, 1999. *7* _Financial frenzy, liberalization, speculation and regulation_, War on Want, London, 1999.
  • New Internationalist issue 320 magazine cover This article is from the January/February 2000 issue of New Internationalist.
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