Notes from the front – of 9/3/2016

Support the Junior Doctors strike! Fighting for our NHS!

The Tory government has once more forced junior doctors into strike action. Industrial action in the NHS is extremely rare but under this government it is becoming almost common place.

The causes of the strike are completely misrepresented in virtually all the mainstream press. The health secretary Jeremy Hunt is attempting to enforce new shift patterns on junior doctors which will lengthen the working week, include more unsocial hours work and put patient safety at risk all with the same resources. He is attempting to get junior doctors to work longer for less.

This is all part of a wider strategy, which includes the ongoing piecemeal privatisation of the NHS and the growth of large financial deficits in the NHS Trusts. The NHS remains the most popular institution in Britain. No government could simply announce its destruction. Instead, this is a deliberate strategy to create chaos in health in order to undermine support for it and accelerate and widen privatisations.

The junior doctors are fighting for all of us who rely on the NHS, the overwhelming majority of the population. Through union branches, on picket lines, in the Labour Party and the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, the junior doctors must be supported by all those fighting for a decent health service.

Global markets hang on every word from China’s National People’s Congress

Global financial markets were pushed sharply higher following the key announcements made at China’s National People’s Congress (NPC). In general these markets remain in a febrile state due to a combination of overvaluation and the slowdown in the world economy. But there was a strong positive reaction to the Chinese announcement that the growth target for 2016 remains at 6.5 per cent to 7 per cent, and that this would also be the annual target throughout the next five year plan.

Virtually all major stock markets rallied strongly on the announcement and key commodities such as the oil price recovered sharply from recent lows.

This should not be a surprise. It demonstrates China’s real weight in the world economy and its role as the engine of global growth. To take one example, according to World Bank estimates since the crisis in 2007 and to the end of 2014 real GDP growth in China has added more than three times to the world economy than the increase in GDP in the entire OECD club of advanced industrialised nations. China has expanded by US$7.667 trillion over that period while OECD GDP has risen by just US$2.329 trillion. This is despite the fact that the OECD GDP was more than 4 times larger than China’s at the outset of this period in 2007.

Therefore any clear indication of the continuation of Chinese growth is seized on with relief by financial market operators anxious for relief from the deluge of bad news surrounding Western corporate earnings, lowered GDP forecasts and deteriorating survey findings. It is entirely possible that there will be renewed falls in financial markets. But this is because of the negative factors in the Western economies not because of China’s growth.

The recent gyrations in key financial markets demonstrate the real weight of China in the world economy and its commitment to continuing growth. Financial markets in their own distorted way reflect this reality, even if most Western commentators do not.