“We are on the edge of the abyss”: Italian, Spanish unions fight “austerity” plans—which threaten “decade-long stagnation,” says UN report (2 items)

Italian, Spanish Unions Mobilize Against ‘Austerity’ Plans
‘We are on the edge of the abyss’
by Michele Leridon

Unions mounted a general strike in Italy and organized mass protests in Spain Tuesday as they battled government efforts to tackle the debt crisis in two of the eurozone’s most beleaguered economies.

People march through downtown Turin, Italy, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011 in the wake of a general strike. A strike by Italy’s largest labor confederation against austerity measures that it says penalizes workers has shut down air, land and sea transport and curtailed other public services throughout the country. Workers for the state railway, city transit systems and ferry services all were on strike. Hospital workers, postal employees and bank tellers also were joining in. CGIL leader Susanna Camusso led a march through Rome on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Daniele Badolato, Lapresse)Despite the strike, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government backtracked under market pressure and restored measures it had cut from its latest 45.5-billion-euro ($65.6-billion) austerity package.

The Italian cabinet late Tuesday also authorized calling a vote of confidence in parliament over its austerity package to speed its adoption, citing “the seriousness of the international financial crisis”. That would allow the Italian Senate to vote on the measures Wednesday.

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U.N. Body Warns of Risks of Global Austerity
By NEIL MacFARQUHAR

UNITED NATIONS — The global economy faces a decade-long stagnation because governments are pursuing deficit cuts and other austerity measures rather than providing the needed stimulus packages, said a United Nations economic report released Tuesday.

Instead of new regulation of the financial system to address the problems that helped bring on the recession in 2007-8, governments in the United States and Europe are trying to woo the very speculators who helped cause the problem, said the report by the Geneva-based United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, which is known by its acronym, Unctad.

“Those who support fiscal tightening argue that it is indispensable for restoring the confidence of financial markets, which is perceived as key to economic recovery,” the report said.

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