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In 2008 the collapse of the Lehman Brothers bank was the catalyst for what became a global financial and economic crisis. However, a complete meltdown of the system was prevented as governments around the world intervened, mobilising their resources and bailing out the banking and finance sector.
A clearer case for the value of public spending could not have been made. Unfortunately, this was not the turning point that some expected. Many national governments and international institutions – the International Monetary Fund and European Commission included – decided that public spending was not part of the solution but part of the problem. Austerity became the order of the day with deep cuts imposed, and continuing to be imposed on many public services around the world.
The result has been years of recession and rising unemployment. And it is back to business as usual. The deregulation that contributed to the depth of the financial crisis is once again the order of the day, with the focus now on the public sector and the various laws and institutions that provide protection for workers and their trade unions. The role of the public sector in containing the crisis has been forgotten and the attacks on public spending and public sector workers have been resumed.
It is all the more important then that we make the case for why we need public spending.