The Impact of the Crisis on Women in Eastern Europe. Paper for AWID

27 December 2010 by Ewa Charkiewcz


Banks are doing well. But how much women can take? Financial crisis as the crisis of social reproduction

Between 2004 and 2009 five women sales representatives and debt collectors of Provident Poland have been brutally murdered by clients whom they approached for pay back of loans to their employer. Provident Poland is a daughter company of UK based Personal International Finance, which in turn is a daughter company of Provident Financial, established in 1880 to loan to poor working class neighborhoods in Britain. The company makes profits from door to door loans to the poor, or as they have been nowadays called with eugenic connotations, “subprime debtors” or “non-standard customers”. In Poland, Provident offered loans at up to 350 % interest Interest An amount paid in remuneration of an investment or received by a lender. Interest is calculated on the amount of the capital invested or borrowed, the duration of the operation and the rate that has been set. rate. The majority of home credit agents (sales reps) and over half of its 2.03 million customers in eastern Europe are women who manage household budget.. The company portrays itself as “finance with a human face”, and a women-to-women business. Some women climb up its corporate ladders - but the rest are left in a deep pitch. All but one top managers are middle age men [1].

Among murdered women was a jobless former factory worker, a single mother desperately seeking income, a student who wanted to earn money to pay tuition fee - hacked to death with a kitchen knife, strangled with a transmission belt, beaten to death [2]. The logic of profit Profit The positive gain yielded from a company’s activity. Net profit is profit after tax. Distributable profit is the part of the net profit which can be distributed to the shareholders. maximizing from debt, and violence and exploitation embedded in the relationship between Provident and women as sources of revenue - its clients and its workforce - are emblematic of financial crisis.

Provident got a new lease on corporate life with expansion to Eastern Europe (and now has an eye on expansion to Mexico). Apart from different customer niche, Provident is managed in the same way as any other bank or corporation. In reports to investors the company projects ever increasing profits. The company is managed with one goal - to increase dividend pay-out. Integrated with the corporate profit maximizing logic and hyper-competition for extraction of profits, employees are pushed to work more and faster. Monthly reviewed work plans and performance based remunerations of all managers along corporate command chains are linked to and depend on constantly increasing profit targets. The targets trickle down to lower level managers who push women home agents on the ground to give and reclaim more loans. Competitions are organized among staff to select the best achievers who set the norm for others. To cheapen labor costs, women sales reps are self-employed. Clients have no history of employment and steady income. For women sales representatives and their clients in depressed local labor markets, the jobs or loans from Provident are the livelihood source of the last resource. Parts of Warsaw, Bratislava or Moscow resemble any global city, but in poor areas bus stops are littered with offers of credit with no documents required, and pawn shops and loaning institutions are easier to find than kindergardens, food stores or libraries.

In 2006, Polish government, represented by Foreign Office, Office for European Integration, and Treasury in company with Association of Polish Employers Leviathan hailed Provident as a success story of transition to encourage more FDI flows from United Kingdom, and offered higher and faster returns on investment in Poland. (Poland’s Roadshow in London, 2006).

Polish state is implicated in the tragic deaths by adopting policies that led to political and economic abandonment of large sections of populations. Political and economic restructuring in Poland and in all other countries in eastern Europe was organized by ideological salesmen who equated free market with democracy and prosperity for all. In techno-economic jargon of neoliberal governance, the only way to prosperity was deregulation of markets, privatization, reduction of taxes, marketization of social sectors. The richest 10 % of population have a bigger share Share A unit of ownership interest in a corporation or financial asset, representing one part of the total capital stock. Its owner (a shareholder) is entitled to receive an equal distribution of any profits distributed (a dividend) and to attend shareholder meetings. of income from the market and a smaller share of contribution to taxes than the richest 10 % in the USA (OECD OECD
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
OECD: the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, created in 1960. It includes the major industrialized countries and has 34 members as of January 2016.

http://www.oecd.org/about/membersandpartners/
, 1998). In result of the same policies, in Poland, the country of 38 million, the net loss of jobs between 1992 and 2004 was 5 million. Unemployment and the rise of the new category of working poor created demand for loans of the last resort and substandard jobs such as with Provident.

In the new brave world of financial capitalism Provident is not an exception. “Respectable” banks and investment firms and corporations operate within the same management paradigm. In virtual and real economy management remunerations are locked with ever increasing performance quotas and profit targets. The rationality of value management is to speed up turnover of capital and maximize profits. The returns on investments have to be generated in ever shortening project time. The hyper-competitive neoliberal economy is organized as war for securing the extraction of profits. The five murdered women sales reps of Provident are collateral Collateral Transferable assets or a guarantee serving as security against the repayment of a loan, should the borrower default. damage in this contest. While commentators frame the cause of financial crisis as burst credit bubble, insufficient regulatory oversight or moralize it by putting the blame on corporate greed, this pervasive systemic logic and the effects of market expansion, hyper-competition and the speed up in the accumulation of capital on human bodies, ecological and social reproduction, and ability to sustain life are rarely addressed. With their positioning between production and reproduction (Sen & Beneria, 1981) , responsible for care and contributing to family income women, in particular women from low income households bear the brunt of restructuring and financial crisis.

The story of five murdered women in Provident shows the crisis is not, as neoliberal media and decision makers put it, the effect of contagion of otherwise healthy economies by toxic assets Toxic assets An asset that becomes illiquid when its secondary market disappears. Toxic assets cannot be sold, as they are often guaranteed to lose money. The term “toxic asset” was coined in the financial crisis of 2008/09, in regards to mortgage-backed securities, collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps, all of which could not be sold after they exposed their holders to massive losses. from the crisis that began in USA and UK in 2007. From human rights, sustainable livelihoods, and social and ecological justice perspective, it is the neoliberal transition project that has been unhealthy in the first place. The vector of contagion was toxic neoliberal discourse. The causes of financial instability and economic volatility are inseparable from neoliberal logic of restructuring of states, firms, and subjectivities. Among all so called emerging economies, Eastern Europe was most vulnerable to the crisis and experienced deepest economic downturn precisely because the region was subjected to neoliberal reforms in their most crude form. And now, given the responses to the crisis that I outline below – women and men in the region are getting more of the same toxic treatment that caused crisis in the first place.

Transition as a permanent financial crisis for women from low income households

Eastern Europe is a region that during past 20 years has been constantly given new names . This new politico-economic cartography of peripheral integration of East into the West redrew the maps of the region according to progress in neoliberal reforms. The region is now discursively partitioned into EU 10, Western Balkans, and New Independent States (NIS). It comprises the new EU member states (EU 10): Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Rumania, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland as well as Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania (Western Balkans), Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and Russia (NIS). The economic performance indicators of the EU 10 are better largely due to substantial fiscal transfers from the ”old” EU and debt in western banks and financial institutions. For populations in former Yugoslavia (now renamed into Western Balkans) neoliberal restructuring came on top of devastating wars. In Serbia the devastation of industry, infrastructure and loss of income from trade in result of war was estimated at $ 17 bn. “Except for Slovenia, once the most developed part of former Yugoslavia and which became a member of the European Union (EU) in 2004, the economic performances of the rest are dismal when compared to 1989, a benchmark for the region” (Zimonjic, 2010). Although not ravished by war, even before the crisis, Ukraine still did not reach GDP GDP
Gross Domestic Product
Gross Domestic Product is an aggregate measure of total production within a given territory equal to the sum of the gross values added. The measure is notoriously incomplete; for example it does not take into account any activity that does not enter into a commercial exchange. The GDP takes into account both the production of goods and the production of services. Economic growth is defined as the variation of the GDP from one period to another.
levels of 1991, the year of the collapse of the USSR, and Moldova’s GDP was at half of the pre-transition level (UN, 2009).

Eastern Europe comprises a variety of countries with populations that share the experiences of post-socialist transition as neoliberal destruction of preexisting means of livelihoods and social protection systems, and subsequent unequal integration into regional and global economy. While transition benefited small sections of populations, in particular a micro-class of managers of transition, “(n)eoliberal trickle-down ideology ... was so economically destructive that it is almost as if nations were invaded militarily (Hudson & Sommers, 2020:4). Across the region restructuring produced new gendered class divisions in access to income and political power (True, 2000) while offloading social costs of transition to the new social majority of low income households and new vulnerable groups, e.g. such such as migrant women and men, new working poor, or precarious workers.

Early years of transition sent millions of households into income poverty (Milanovic, 1998) and benefits of transition concentrated in small sections of population and selected metropolitan locations (OECD, 2008). Factories that provided livelihoods to millions of workers, many of whom were women, were closed or privatized and integrated with international production networks. “As industry and agriculture disintegrated, the fulcrum of production and redistribution has moved from factory to household elevating women’s previous role as organizers and executors of domestic economy” (Burowoy et al, 2000).

When in some countries the GDP finally rebound to pre-transition levels or superseded them earlier, as in Poland or Czech Republic, a new wave of unemployment, and subsequent cuts in public spending signify that social cost of financial crises are offloaded once again to households, with middle income households plunging into poverty, and with women from low income household paying the biggest brunt of the volatility and finance skewed growth of the global economy.

While some women benefited from transition, low income households live in permanent existential insecurity which takes its toll with health loss, shorter life span of the poor, and increase in suicides rates (higher for men) across the region. In Warsaw, Poland, where income, health and life span indicators are better than country average, women’s lives in poor unemployment stricken Warsaw district of Praga-South are shorter by 9.5 years in comparison to women from affluent neighborhoods, and men respectively by 14. 5 years (Office of Health, Warsaw City Hall, 2010). The price for rapid restructuring in Russia was 8 million premature deaths. (Gavrilova et al, 1999, UNICEF 2010, Stuckler et al, 2009). In Russia the government is not worried about pensions for their male citizens, whose life expectancy ends before they reach pension age. As such hard indicator as calories intake shows, in Russia, for men and women with higher income the calories intake measured from 1992 to 2000 slightly increased, while women from low income households are the only group for whom the calories intake was lower and steadily declined since 1995 (Jahns et al, 2003). “Ukraine has almost three times less income per capita (USD 3,069) than the Russian Federation (USD 9,079), but they both have same proportion of their populations who are poor and vulnerable (45%). (Unal, Dokmanovic, Abazov, 2010). Ukraine has retained some social rights and entitlements, including constitutional right to work.

In all countries in the region, poverty is highest among children. As in other regions, and young women and men are hit hardest (Verick, 2009) due to privatization of education, housing, increase in poverty and flexibilization of labour markets, which created a new category of working poor, barely surviving today with no chance for accumulating savings towards future pensions. “In 2007, about 53 percent of women workers were located in part-time, temporary, or other forms of informal employment, compared to about 49 percent of male workers. Over a third of the female workforce (36%) were among the working poor compared to 30 percent of the male workforce” (ILO 2009, in Unal et al). Precarious forms of employment increase vulnerability to financial crisis. The crisis hit hard and will have long term effects on majority of local populations because it comes in the region affected by decades of harsh social adjustment. “Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, transition provided the world with cheap new sources of skilled labour, low-tax locations and raw materials” (Association of Chartered Accountants, 2009:2).

Eastern European governments responses to financial crises

In eastern Europe the actual fall in GDP in result of financial crisis is the greatest among all the so called emerging economies (Darvas, 2009). The actual GDP fell in the region (minus the new EU members) by – 14.1 % from 7.6 in 2007 to minus 6.5 in 2009 (Jansen & Uexkall: 2010). The average regional statistics disguise country disparities, eg. in effect of crisis Russia’s GDP dipped to minus 10 %, to the level of 1989 (UN, 2009). Latvia’s GDP fell by close to 20 % in one single year. The same goes for unemployment, which in the respective period declined by minus 4.3 % regionally, but for instance by 20 % in Latvia, and at 43 % in Bosnia Hercegovina with women’s unemployment rising faster than in any other region (ACCA, 2009).

After 20 years of transition, most countries in Eastern Europe are much more financially integrated and more dependent on foreign trade, and with corporate sector more dependent on credit from western European banks, that any other developing region. Regarding financial integration, major financial portfolio inflows concerned purchase of local banks (as in Poland) or creating bank branches and daughter companies where commercial banks did not exist (eg. Latvia). In all countries private sector was running debt in foreign currency. All together, in 2009 the debt to western European banks was 1307.5 billion euro (ACCA, 2009) to finance private sector investment as well as consumer credit (mostly mortgages) or for prefinancing EU structural and regional funds projects to local government in Eastern Europe. With the exception of Poland and Hungary all countries entered transition with almost no debt. Now they are indebted to international financial institutions and private banks up to 100 of its GDP (Hungary). When exchange rates fluctuated and with credit squeeze the costs of servicing debt skyrocketed. The Association for Chartered Accountants calculated finance gap in the region of 100 bn euro (ACCA, 2009).

Financial crises and its aftershock on human livelihoods spread to economies in Eastern Europe via multiple ways, e.g. speculative bubble Speculative bubble An economic, financial or speculative bubble is formed when the level of trading-prices on a market (financial assets market, currency-exchange market, property market, raw materials market, etc.) settles well above the intrinsic (or fundamental) financial value of the goods or assets being exchanged. In such a situation, prices diverge from the usual economic valuation under the influence of buyers’ beliefs. , drop in commodity prices, credit freeze, volatility of exchange rates, currency pegging or boards which disabled local monetary policy response, fall in demand in export oriented production, rising import costs, disinvestment, asset Asset Something belonging to an individual or a business that has value or the power to earn money (FT). The opposite of assets are liabilities, that is the part of the balance sheet reflecting a company’s resources (the capital contributed by the partners, provisions for contingencies and charges, as well as the outstanding debts). seizing or downsizing by mother companies in Western Europe and elsewhere, decline in remittances from migrants, eg. by 20 % in Moldova Hit first and hardest were countries particularly open to foreign trade and investment, as well as hydrocarbon exporting economies.

For decision makers in international institutions the financial crisis in eastern Europe came as a surprise. Although since mid 2000s World Bank World Bank
WB
The World Bank was founded as part of the new international monetary system set up at Bretton Woods in 1944. Its capital is provided by member states’ contributions and loans on the international money markets. It financed public and private projects in Third World and East European countries.

It consists of several closely associated institutions, among which :

1. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, 189 members in 2017), which provides loans in productive sectors such as farming or energy ;

2. The International Development Association (IDA, 159 members in 1997), which provides less advanced countries with long-term loans (35-40 years) at very low interest (1%) ;

3. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), which provides both loan and equity finance for business ventures in developing countries.

As Third World Debt gets worse, the World Bank (along with the IMF) tends to adopt a macro-economic perspective. For instance, it enforces adjustment policies that are intended to balance heavily indebted countries’ payments. The World Bank advises those countries that have to undergo the IMF’s therapy on such matters as how to reduce budget deficits, round up savings, enduce foreign investors to settle within their borders, or free prices and exchange rates.

, OECD and IMF IMF
International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.

http://imf.org
provided funding and know how for creating derivatives Derivatives A family of financial products that includes mainly options, futures, swaps and their combinations, all related to other assets (shares, bonds, raw materials and commodities, interest rates, indices, etc.) from which they are by nature inseparable—options on shares, futures contracts on an index, etc. Their value depends on and is derived from (thus the name) that of these other assets. There are derivatives involving a firm commitment (currency futures, interest-rate or exchange swaps) and derivatives involving a conditional commitment (options, warrants, etc.). markets in eastern Europe (OECD, 2007) it was believed that countries are immune since they do not have many toxic assets. By 2009 decision makers in the EU, given the exposure of European banks in eastern Europe, became concerned the economic downturn in the region will lead to sovereign debt Sovereign debt Government debts or debts guaranteed by the government. default to Western European banks.

Russia

One of the unexpected loosers was Russian economy, which prior to 2007 had little government debt Government debt The total outstanding debt of the State, local authorities, publicly owned companies and organs of social security. , substantial fiscal surplus, and large current account surplus, as well as huge export revenue. This suddenly changed with the fall of oil prices, and rising cost of servicing private sector debt in foreign banks in the context of credit squeeze. In one year, 2008, the outflow of assets from Russia was $ 130 bn. Local real estate bubble burst, production decreased, and eventually unemployment rose to 12% last year, leading to steep increases in poverty. (UN, 2009, Bogetic 2009). In the aftermath of the latest financial crisis, poverty is to increase by 5.6 million for 2008 and 2009, with altogether 22 million living in poverty (Bogetic, 2009).

Russian government responded to the crisis with large fiscal stimulus package to private sector and banks. The stimulus included tax cuts to business and individuals, and liquidity Liquidity The facility with which a financial instrument can be bought or sold without a significant change in price. , and funding support to business, as well as investments in infrastructure. First stimulus package amounted to $ 86 billion , with $ 52 billion for selected strategic and regionally important companies in manufacturing, military-industrial complex, beef and dairy farmers, car manufacturers among them, as well as to banks to refinance credit, and the rest available to banks in the form of loans (UN, 2009, DBG, 2010). Since not a WTO WTO
World Trade Organisation
The WTO, founded on 1st January 1995, replaced the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT). The main innovation is that the WTO enjoys the status of an international organization. Its role is to ensure that no member States adopt any kind of protectionism whatsoever, in order to accelerate the liberalization global trading and to facilitate the strategies of the multinationals. It has an international court (the Dispute Settlement Body) which judges any alleged violations of its founding text drawn up in Marrakesh.

member, Russia protected its manufacturers and jobs in the local automobile industry by imposing tariffs on foreign produced cars. “Russia’s early fiscal policy response has so far focused on supporting the financial sector and enterprises, with rather limited support to households. The total fiscal cost of measures implemented in 2008 and planned for 2009 amount to more than 2.9 trillion rubles or about 6.7 percent of GDP. This is larger than that implemented in most G20 G20 The Group of Twenty (G20 or G-20) is a group made up of nineteen countries and the European Union whose ministers, central-bank directors and heads of state meet regularly. It was created in 1999 after the series of financial crises in the 1990s. Its aim is to encourage international consultation on the principle of broadening dialogue in keeping with the growing economic importance of a certain number of countries. Its members are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, USA, UK and the European Union (represented by the presidents of the Council and of the European Central Bank). countries.”(Bogetic, 2009).

Russia provided support to neighboring countries, including $ 2 bn loan to Belarus, as well as $ 7.5 bn to anti-crisis fund to NIS in Central Asia (UN, 2009) – with an eye on creating a new regional trading Market activities
trading
Buying and selling of financial instruments such as shares, futures, derivatives, options, and warrants conducted in the hope of making a short-term profit.
block on the basis of countries that have been a part of USSR.

Russia’s economy is organized in over 140 big enterprises in resource extraction, manufacturing, military industrial complex, and retail. These conglomerates are privately owned. The stimulus plan focused on funding and liquidity support in the banking and corporate sector and protection of domestic industries rather than households capacities to survive. Some measures to support households have been taken, e.g. the government made a purchase plan for medications, or increase in unemployment benefits, but this will have marginal impact because only 1/3 of unemployed are registered and initial benefits have been very small anyhow (Bogetc, 2009).

The abandonment of the poor takes place in the context the impoverishment created during transition. For Russian women and men transition came after hardships of every day live in the Soviet Union, ‘material problems of the family, ardous work, and the unbearable “double shift” of hired work and domestic labor… The shift to market mechanisms did not relieve the problems of Russian women but exacerbated them” (Ochkina, 2009). In Russia, poverty and health loss related to rapid restructuring increased substantially after pierestrojka aptly renamed by one of the authors as katastrojka (Ellman, 1994 in Bezemer, 2006). According to Independent Institute for Social Policy (2002) by early 2000s 1/3 of population lived in poverty, including the category of the new poor, on top of the old ones such such as lone parent households, now the unemployed, and dual earner households with income below subsistence level (due to low wages in the new private sector) are among the poor.

In the study of poverty trends between 1985 and 1999 in Russia, based on subsistence minimum, Shorrocks (2001) points the major cause of poverty are steep and persistent income inequalities that rapidly emerged at the onset of transition in the 90s. For low income groups, their 1999 earnings constitute 21 % of earnings in 1993. Most of the working poor are employed in the public sector (Volkov and Denenberg, 2005), and the majority of public sector employees are women. A longitudinal analysis of gender relations in employment in the 1990s (Satre-Ahlander, 2001) shows, women’s employment remains concentrated in low paid sectors, with persistence of wage gaps. More recent data confirm persistence of these trends into 2000s. Women’s economic activity rates declined from 90 % in 1990 to 57.7 % in 2009 (Satre- Ahlander, 2001, Rosstat, 2009), and in 2009 gender wage gaps were the highest among top mangers. At the same time, employment statistics demonstrated relatively better position of women visa vis men, with the exception of women with high and vocational education, whose unemployment rates were higher than those for men.

“Today, the minimum wage covers only 27 percent of what is needed to sustain an adult of working age; the child benefit covers just 3 percent of necessary expenditure for a child; and the minimum pension covers only 46 percent of the minimum expenditure of a pensioner. In the Soviet Union, the minimum wage amounted to one-and-a-half times the minimum required consumption. Russia’s minimum wage would have to be trebled to cover the minimum level of consumption”. (Volkov & Denenberg, 2005). Financial crisis hits impoverished populations. The decline in women’s unemployment was steeper than for men, but the major problem is the increase in income poverty of households. Due to women’s responsibilities for provisioning and care work at home, and given the fact that 40 % of household in Russia are led by women, social costs of financial crisis are externalized to women, while poor households and in particular women are abandoned by the state.

Poland

Poland has been the only country in the region and EU which maintained positive figures in GDP growth, but at the huge expense of transferring the costs of crisis to households. Same as in Russia, the crisis hits populations made vulnerable with harsh adjustment policies. The impact of the crisis was first felt by employees of private sector companies which speculated in currency options (e.g. in Glass Works Krosno those most affected were women workers in their 40s and 50s, with no chance to find new job on depressed labor market), as well as by employees and subcontractors in the real estate sector heavily dependent on credit, and then in manufacturing, in particular automobile industry. Public budget was under pressure of increased costs of financing state debt. The governmental response was to stabilize budget by taking new loans, including flexible credit line from the IMF in the amount of $ 20.58 bn, and $ 2.55 bn from the World Bank, on top of earlier loans to finance transition in the amount of $ 7.5 bn. In relation to labor, a stimulus plan was negotiated with business and trade unions, which included changes in accounting work time. All measures but one meliorated the crisis for companies. Without any public consultations, the government introduced discretionary tax relaxation measures (tax cuts, changes in the tax income income thresholds, changes in rules governing corporate tax accounting), and guaranteed deposits. The measures amounted to 4.5 % GDP, and increased budget deficit from 3- 4 % to close to 7 % (Thomsen, 2010). The only remaining Polish bank, state bank BGK was subsidized with 975 million euro to support the refunding of interest rates Interest rates When A lends money to B, B repays the amount lent by A (the capital) as well as a supplementary sum known as interest, so that A has an interest in agreeing to this financial operation. The interest is determined by the interest rate, which may be high or low. To take a very simple example: if A borrows 100 million dollars for 10 years at a fixed interest rate of 5%, the first year he will repay a tenth of the capital initially borrowed (10 million dollars) plus 5% of the capital owed, i.e. 5 million dollars, that is a total of 15 million dollars. In the second year, he will again repay 10% of the capital borrowed, but the 5% now only applies to the remaining 90 million dollars still due, i.e. 4.5 million dollars, or a total of 14.5 million dollars. And so on, until the tenth year when he will repay the last 10 million dollars, plus 5% of that remaining 10 million dollars, i.e. 0.5 million dollars, giving a total of 10.5 million dollars. Over 10 years, the total amount repaid will come to 127.5 million dollars. The repayment of the capital is not usually made in equal instalments. In the initial years, the repayment concerns mainly the interest, and the proportion of capital repaid increases over the years. In this case, if repayments are stopped, the capital still due is higher…

The nominal interest rate is the rate at which the loan is contracted. The real interest rate is the nominal rate reduced by the rate of inflation.
and insurance costs of corporate credit in Western European banks in Poland and EU. The costs of adjustment to crisis were passed to households and in particular to labor, with 29 % of all employed, and 70 % of young women employed on flexible, temporary contracts who were the first to loose jobs when companies responded to crisis by shedding labor, while state subsidized employment declined (GUS, 2009). Taking opportunity of financial crisis and in the name of sharing the costs , the state froze income thresholds for social protection allowances, which resulted with the increase in the numbers of the poor without entitlements to meager handouts (In 2008 the average monthly cash allowance in the above mentioned Krosno for social welfare recipients was 25 zlotys that is 6.25 euro or $10.8. The average for Poland was 68.4 zlotys per year). 75 % of the heads of households - recipients of welfare allowances are women. Unemployment rose to 1.9 million registered unemployed, that is to 12.9 % in March 2010. Women’s unemployment rose faster then men’s. (GUS, 2010). At the same time, profits of major banks listed on Warsaw stock exchange (which are daughter companies of old EU countries’ banks) increased to 40 %. [3] Polish Employers Association Leviathan states that the crisis strengthened large and medium size firms who will have record financial results in 2010 with profit growth of 20 % to total of 20 billion euro. The number of firms which do not declare profits decreased from 40 % in the beginning of the decade to 22 % in 2009. Record profits are planned for 2010. Among the reason is the decline in labor costs (Glapiak, 2010). In Poland, crisis has been used as a convenient excuse to pressure for neoliberal reforms, in particular to continue pension reforms already tied to the performance of stock markets and dependent on individual contributions which leave many women, who take maternity leave or work on temporary low paid contracts - without any old age security. Although the fiscal stimulus to economy increased budget deficit, the blame for the deficit is put on “bloated social budgets”, and on current and future pensioners, in particular old women who are treated as liability for the state.

Latvia

The Baltics, in particular Latvia (a member of the EU since 2004), and Ukraine have experienced the biggest economic downturns followed by steep increases in social misery. The GDP decline over two years was 25.5 %, from 2008 to 2009 wages dropped by 12 %, and output dropped by 30 % which puts Latvia ahead of Great Depression in the United States of 1929-33. Latvia’s debt skyrocketed from 7.9 % of GDP in 2007 to the level of 74 % of GDP in 2009, and will continue to grow. ’Western loans were not used to upgrade capital investment, public investment and living standards. The great bulk of these loans were extended mainly against assets inherited from Soviet period’ (Hudson & Sommers, 2010) . The crisis in Latvia was triggered by burst real estate bubble, with at the peak of the bubble household overpaying 30 % for new apartments. These policies benefit Western banks (no Latvian bank has been created after 1991), in particular Swedish banks which ’create credit and load down the economies with interest charges’ (ibid.). Faced with bad debt from Latvia Swedish banks are subsidized in their own country, as well as Swedish taxpayer money contributes to Latvian bail-out loans, (EU, IMF and Nordic countries bail out loans in the amount of 9.5 bn euro) at the same time as EU and IMF are pressuring neoliberal coercive policies as condition for bailing Latvia’s Central Bank Central Bank The establishment which in a given State is in charge of issuing bank notes and controlling the volume of currency and credit. In France, it is the Banque de France which assumes this role under the auspices of the European Central Bank (see ECB) while in the UK it is the Bank of England.

ECB : http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/Pages/home.aspx
out so that it can pay Swedish banks, mostly Swedbanka and Nordea that have made such unproductive and parasitic loans’. (Harrison, 2009, Hudson & Sommers, 2010 ). Hence, although it is impossible now that Latvia meets criteria to join the eurozone, painful austerity measures are introduced to maintain currency peg to euro and minimize state debt at the expense of investing in domestic economy.

In the face of deepening crisis Latvian authorities confirmed their commitment to implement a major program of economic adjustment. The austerity measures included slashing public expenditures by 1 billion euro, which means closing hospitals, slashing pensions, as well as public sector wages by 15 %, passing wage ceiling bill, that mandates 30 % nominal cut in expenditures on wages, increasing VAT - consumption tax rates, (Phillipse, 2008) which will push middle class into poverty and hid hardest low income households, who spend all their income on basic needs . At the same time income taxes was decreased and fixed exchange rate or a peg to euro were maintained – which is good for business and advances neoliberal restructuring of Latvia. These conditionalities (similar to bailout loans in other Eastern European countries) which send majority household into extreme poverty and hurt women most, are written and enforced by IMF and and EU Council of Economic and Finance Ministers. Currency peg and the IMF and EU conditionalities put Latvia in the same situation to Argentina in the 1990s. According to the Telegraph, in 2008 IMF suggested withdrawing from currency peg, but was overruled by European Union which wanted to buy time and prevent domino effect throughout Europe from Baltics to Greece, default shock on Western European banks with the exposure of 1.6 trillion euro in Eastern Europe. ’Latvian society is being sacrificed to buy time for EMU’s dysfunctional system. It is the designated martyr for the EU Project. When Latvians wake up to what is being done to them, more than a wretched peg will go’ , concludes the author (Evans-Pritchard, 2009).

Given the impact on social reproduction in terms of rapid decline in the means to sustain lives, the costs of the crisis were passed to households and women. But in a bizarre response to crisis, in March 2009 Latvian Blonde Association organized a blonde parade in scanty clothes and with lapdogs –’to cheer up spirits in the heaviest recession’ and unemployment of 22%. All international media reported this event, conveniently erasing from public memory the images of violent street protests against austerity measures in Latvia. Meanwhile, at 2010 Business Forum in Davos, Latvian prime minister, Valtis Zanger announced the success of the austerity measures - in terms of meeting EU requirements, and Maastricht criteria to enter the eurozone by 2014. But the prime minister ignored social costs and social protests against austerity measures thus demonstrating in neoliberal politics these costs are irrelevant.

Ukraine

Ukraine is one of the biggest countries in Europe, with largest number of population living in poverty, and among the most wrecked by financial crisis which came on top of conflict over the supply of gas from Russia. Ukrainian GDP which in two decades of transition never recovered to the level of 1991 (Ukraine’s first year of independence) when economic ties within Soviet union were dismantled and factory closures started. - After the factories were closed in early 1990s my children could never find work, told me Melania K. a 59 year old migrant from Ukraine, in an interview I conducted in August 2009. Melania supported her extended family from informal trade across Polish-Ukrainian border, but with accession of Poland to EU, crossborder trade and movement of people has been restricted. Melania turned to cleaning jobs but her income dipped and whatever she could send home depended on volatile exchange rates. Alike many grandmothers in poor households, some of whom still have pension entitlements from the socialist state – she despairs how her grandchildren will survive after she dies. Economic migration has been a typical poverty coping strategy in all countries across Eastern Europe.

In contrast to people, big business and shadow economy in Ukraine thrived. Money were send out of the country, e.g. to the tax heaven of Cyprus, which turned into biggest source of FDI in Ukraine. This was due to liberal capital controls in Ukraine which permitted outflow and subsequent – tax free reinvestment of capital to Ukraine. After some recovery in early 2000s. Ukraine’s GDP took a deep dive in 2009, and some gains in reducing poverty from 83.7 % of population in 2003 to 67.7 % in 2005, as measured with subsistence minimum, (World Bank, 2007) have been canceled with the rising unemployment, cuts in wages, and rising inflation Inflation The cumulated rise of prices as a whole (e.g. a rise in the price of petroleum, eventually leading to a rise in salaries, then to the rise of other prices, etc.). Inflation implies a fall in the value of money since, as time goes by, larger sums are required to purchase particular items. This is the reason why corporate-driven policies seek to keep inflation down. .

In Ukraine, the crisis hit hard towards the end of 2008 and in 2009 via trade networks and fall in demand in importing countries (40 % of Ukrainian export is steel, and prices went down by 60 %), and due to volatility of exchange rates. Private sector debt, among the highest in the region, was denominated in foreign currencies (mostly in Russian roubles) (ILO, 2009, 2010). With economic downturn and volatility of exchange rates, and non-performing loans, several banks collapsed, and the state had to bail them out.

The measures to recapitalize banks amount to 4.5 % GDP (IMF, 2010), in the country where the GDP dipped to minus 14%. In October 2009 radical measures were introduced to control currency and restrict investment flows and crossborder lending - but were lifted by Parliament after 6 months. The state protected local businesses, construction industry and real estate by buying out flats in new or financing unfinished construction projects [4],. Another measure was to refinance loans and providing credit to farmers.

In 2008 the government signed an agreement with IMF for a new loan of $ 16.4 bn. with commitment to reduce social sector expenditures, cut wages in the public sector and reverse indexation for social transfers (ILO, 2009) The promised indexation of minimum wage at subsistence level in 2009 was canceled (currently minimum wage is 1/3 below subsistence). Cuts in public sector wages in particular affect women who constitute 70 % of its employees.

One of the commentators, Vlaidmir Lukovitch from legal firm Frishberg and Partners describes Kiev after the crisis in the following manner: “In some ways, life in Kiev resembles the good old days, before the arrival of all those black Mercedes 600 series. The streets are less crowded with traffic, no reservations are required to visit top restaurants on Friday nights and the astronomical lease rates have fallen drastically (Leonardo at $35 per meter!)”. He then proceeds to advice his corporate clients, how to cut labor costs and downsize workforce without compromising the requirements of Ukrainian Labor Law.

In 2008 women’s salaries were 75,2 % of men’s salaries. As for the pensions, women received only 67,3 % of men’s pensions. (UNDP UNDP
United Nations Development Programme
The UNDP, founded in 1965 and based in New York, is the UN’s main agency of technical assistance. It helps the DC, without any political restrictions, to set up basic administrative and technical services, trains managerial staff, tries to respond to some of the essential needs of populations, takes the initiative in regional co-operation programmes and co-ordinates, theoretically at least, the local activities of all the UN operations. The UNDP generally relies on Western expertise and techniques, but a third of its contingent of experts come from the Third World. The UNDP publishes an annual Human Development Report which, among other things, classifies countries by their Human Development Rating (HDR).

, 2009) Average pension in Ukraine is extremely small, 113 USD (UNDP 2009 a). Still, although plans to recapitalize banks reach 4.5 GDP (IMF, 2010) pensions system in Ukraine is seen as a major threat to fiscal stability (World Bank 2010). The new president has already declared increase in women’s retirement age and pension reforms in his inauguration speech. The reforms will create a three pillar system(as in Poland), and link the payments to contribution and stock market performance. This redesigns citizenship along the model of entitlement to life on private subscription. Ukraine has been spending 18 % of its GDP on pensions, social assistance and child benefits (Hoelscher & Alexander, UNICEF, 2009) and the cuts in these expenditure in particular pensions are primary target for anti-crisis measures as designated by the World Bank and IMF. The measure will hit women in their old age hardest, as men life expectancy declined to 62.5, and statistically they live only 2.5 years in their retirement.

In 2010, following presidential elections in Ukraine, World Bank Office in Kiev issued “marching orders” to new government. The primary goal, the government was told is to regain market confidence, stabilize private finance, stimulate public investment, and restructure financial sector. In order to regain market confidence and achieve sound budget, the Bank demanded social sector reforms and cuts, especially regarding expenditures on pensions. Ukrainian government was told that it spends too much on education in comparison to other countries in their income group. World Bank required reforms in social assistance policies, to shift to targeting and means tested approach. Given that in the 1990s. the Bank had changed preexisting methodologies for poverty counts based on social subsistence in the manner that defined poverty at minimal required calories intake plus one more basic expenditure (Klugman, 1999) it has at first performed statistical trick of disappearing poverty, and now demands retargeting of state support to the extremely poor while limiting assistance at the level that prolongs biological exhaustion. This demand, if realized, implies the move from universal indivisible rights as framework for redistributive social policy, to right to live on private subscription, for those who have sufficient income to pay insurance premiums and invest in private pension plans. For prevailing majority of the population what should be a human right - is an unattainable luxury. Attributing market dogma of efficiency into social policy IMF is ignoring “ increasing evidence that targeting on the basis of income is problematic as it entails high administrative costs, significant leakages and substantial undercoverage, while creating stigma on the beneficiaries (Hujo, 2010).

Under the framework of post crisis recovery program, IMF partner organization, the World Bank in Kiev demanded increase in utility bills. Given the experience with hikes in energy prices in Poland, where 33.6 households on 2005 reported they cannot afford to heat their flats or dwellings (OECD, 2008) in Ukraine, too, this measure would push households into deeper poverty, and shorten lives in harsh climate where heating is a basic need. The IMF ’s neoliberal marching ’orders” to Ukrainian government did not refer to any job creating measures to replace jobs lost. The loan was fed FED
Federal Reserve
Officially, Federal Reserve System, is the United States’ central bank created in 1913 by the ’Federal Reserve Act’, also called the ’Owen-Glass Act’, after a series of banking crises, particularly the ’Bank Panic’ of 1907.

FED – decentralized central bank : http://www.federalreserve.gov/
in tranches to make sure the government conforms to IMF requirements. The paper was given the title: Making Ukraine stronger post crisis”. But for whom?

In eastern Europe as elsewhere the main menu of the policy makers has been the same – fiscal stimulus, in plain language subsidies to banks and business. It has to be noted that governments in the regional have relatively small fiscal space, with taxes and labor costs much lower than in Western Europe. E.g. Bulgaria, Romania, Poland and the Baltics have the lowest corporate and personal income tax rates, as well as the lowest share of tax in labor costs in Europe. (DGP & Pricewaterhouse, 2010). (That’s how governments ’make their countries pretty’ to encourage foreign investors, including such as Provident cited in the beginning of this paper). Latvia, Bulgaria and Hungary are among countries who increased their consumption tax (VAT) which has already been at 18 % 20 % prior to the crisis - as part of anticrisis measures. Poor households, which spend all their income on basic needs, contribute larger share of their income to state revenue than the rich – via consumption (VAT) tax. Now the proposed VAT increases (In Latvia and Bulgaria introduced in the name of saving the peg with euro) disproportionately burden low income households, and squeeze out income from women to provision their families. By comparison with direct and indirect subsidizing of banks and corporations, the measures to ease out the crisis for households were minimal. In eastern Europe, the crisis was used to demand cuts is social expenditures, and for marketization and privatization of public services. In her book “Shock Doctrine, The Rise of Disaster Capitalism” Naomi Klein (2007) describes how shock therapies, hurricane Mitch and other man or nature made disasters have been used as means to neoliberal restructuring. In the same way , financial crisis was used in eastern Europe as yet another opportunity to push for intensified neoliberal restructuring, which has contributed to the crisis in the first place.

Neoliberal decision makers govern the state as if it was a firm - through the lens of budget or financial statement, with its two principal categories: assets and liabilities Liabilities The part of the balance-sheet that comprises the resources available to a company (equity provided by the partners, provisions for risks and charges, debts). . Social sectors are not an asset . From neoliberal viewpoint they are liabilities and a “dead weight” to the economy. Decision makers use social and economic disaster of financial crisis not only as an opportunity to cut social expenditures, but also to introduce reforms that will permanently limit spending on social sectors. But what for neoliberals is a dead weight to the economy, for us it is our lives.

Crisis of social reproduction and women’s movements responses

It is not “enough to focus on how women can get a fair share of jobs created by fiscal stimulus or how they can be protected by measures such as cash transfers. If post-crisis economies are to meet goals of equality and social justice and environmental sustainability, we need to consider more basic questions, such as questions about the role of markets in society and about what kinds of goods and services are being produced and for whom; and what criteria are going to be used to judge success and how we define progress. Women’s organizations need to engage with “macro-finance” as well as with “micro-finance.” Measures to end the crisis will fail if they simply seek to restore growth and greed. (Jain & Elson, 2010: 12)

The crisis of the livelihoods is taking place, although to a different extent, in all regions in the world. In Eastern Europe financial and economic crises and rapid loss of existential security is nothing new. Recent crises comes on top of the effects of radical and rapid structural change. Permanent reforms and adjustment to the global economy and financial markets of the last two decades have created a permanent financial crisis for low income households.

One of the key features of transition was the growth of income inequalities, dismantling of social protection systems, and the abandonment of social and economic rights. Some scholars point to persistence of inequalities created at the onset of transition (Shorrocks, 2009). While pre-transition social protection systems were dismantled, “the reforms undertaken during the last 10 or fifteen years have been either incomplete or too narrow, leaving large groups of vulnerable population unprotected, and certain groups, including children, out of focus” (Hoelscher & Alexander, 2009). Marketization or privatization of public services increased households costs and claims on women’s time.

Responsibility for social reproduction, once shared between households and socialist state (e.g. by way by providing child care facilities, education, health care, social security) now shifted to households, with the effect of increasing claims on women’s time in provisioning, providing care and maintaining every day life of their families.
With the reforms that started in the mid 1990s social security systems have been gradually dismantled, depleted or privatized. With the exception of Belarus, none of the countries in the region has a functional comprehensive social security system. Under World Bank guidance poverty and support to the poor has been limited to extreme poverty line as “safety net” measure (UNICEF, 2009).

The major cause of poverty in eastern Europe is unemployment and poorly paid insecure jobs. Economic downturn exacerbated poverty. The unemployment for the region (without EU-10 ) rose from 8.3 to 10.3, by 2 % with women from 6 to 8.5 % by 2.6 %. (Jansen & von Uexkall: 2010). Households, who live below poverty lines, exhausted their coping strategies. Household extension (several generations living together in overcrowded apartments), pooling income from labor or pensions to pay basic existential expenditure and provide care for children or elderly, (Ahmed & Emigh: 2005) are affected by wage and pensions arrears and cuts. Hit hardest are female headed households, of whom 40 % lived below poverty line in Russia. For Russian women, who went through hardships of triple burden of hard work, obligatory political activism and provisioning households in the context of shortages on top of loneliness after generations of men were killed in war, the shift from patriarchal socialist state to neoliberal patriarchal nation-state did not improve their lives. (Ochkina 2009). Across the region, prior to the recent crisis women from low income households, juggled whether to buy bread and milk or pay rent and utilities. Poor households survived by borrowing from family and neighbors, or informal purchase of food from local shops on credit but with the economic downturn and general impoverishment, these possibilities have been exhausted. At the same, due to inflation, and volatility of exchange rates, costs of living rise. Over the decades of transition local food production and processing declined, and food export grew. In the current context, this leads to food security crisis.

Since early years of transition, migration was households response to poverty and existential insecurity. This entailed formal employment in recipient countries, but also work in the informal sector, without benefits. The psycho-social costs of migration are high: vulnerability to violence, abuse by police and employers, insecurity of dislocation, no entitlements to social security and in case of women informal domestic workers, insecurity what will happen with them in case if sickness, disability or old age. Now even these possibilities appear to be exhausted.

Remittances have been important sources of income for households, or state budgets. Eg. In Moldova (34 percent of GDP in 2007), Bosnia/Herzegovina (17 percent), Armenia (14 percent), Albania (13 percent), Georgia (7 percent), Bulgaria & Romania (f5 percent), and between two and four percent for eight further CESEE countries. (Darvis, 2009). CEE/NIS the only region with decline in remittances from migrants (World Bank 2009 in UNICEF 2009, e.g. in Moldova to 20 % despite the fact, that changes in exchange rates allowed migrants who kept their employment to send more money home. In late 2009 according to UK governmental report, half a million Polish migrants disappeared from labor market statistics [5]. It’s is assumed that returned to depressed labor markets at home.

There are local small scale responses in response to increase in hardships. For instance, in Serbia, in response to rapid loss of employment and poverty trade unions created SOS shops, were people with income below 268 euro receive special cards and can purchase goods priced at 70 % less than regular shops (Development .Challengers. South South Solutions, 2009). These local measures will however not replace proper social security systems and job creation programs.

Local populations, including women’s movements organized political protest. The action to block highway, and mobilization of solidarity from critical organizations, and media led to payment of wage arrears in Pikalievo, Russia, where three cement works were closed in chain reaction to burst real estate bubble and crisis in construction sector. In Riga, Budapest, Bucarest, Sofia, Moscow, and Warsaw protests have been organized in front of parliaments to oppose stimulus packages that transferred the costs of crisis to people. In 2010 in Warsaw women’s 8th of March demonstration was organized together with trade unions under banner: we will not pay for your crisis. Such protests have been deliberately ignored by governments, and quickly faded from media with their short attention span. The biggest challenge is how to institutionalize them.

Feminism in eastern Europe is divided in terms of their response to women’s hardships in transition. In Poland, and in many countries in Eastern Europe, the language used by feminist and women’s NGOs drew on gender mainstreaming. What has been a political compromise in the EU or UN became feminist ideology in eastern Europe. Many NGOs engaged with projects based on neoliberal assumption that transition and globalization are good for women. In this framework the main problem is how to better adjust women to global markets. Financial crisis showed the engagement with the state-led gender mainstreaming has to be profoundly rethought from the perspective of where are women today vis a vis neoliberal state. Do we really want an equal part of the toxic cake? The are a lot of complaints about glass ceilings but what about deep pits? The institutionalization of protests depends on building relationships among different streams of social movements and developing critiques of transition project and financial crisis. Regional and interregional networks such as Karat, WIDE, The Network Women Towards Another Europe, the European part of World’s Women March are doing precisely that. But while they represent a mosaic of local organizations there are hardly any likeminded networks at national level.

In Poland, two different developments have been taking place in the spring and early summer of 2010. On the one hand Polish Women’s Congress, sponsored and led by the chairwoman of Polish Employers Association Leviathan had its second annual meeting. Speaking on behalf of all women in Poland the Congress supported neoliberal political agenda and presidential candidate. Two weeks earlier a garage meeting took place of women’s organizations committed to human rights and social justice, women from trade unions, lbtq activists, radical researchers, who initiated a Left Wing Feminist Network Rozgwiazda - to intervene in politics, to stand up for social rights, make space for voices of women, such as migrants, Roma, women living in poverty, ltbq women, single mothers, care workers, and new generation of precarious workers. The question that was put at meeting is what kind of state we want? The Rozgwiazda network participants do not intend to speak on behalf of women as a homogenous interest group – they want to develop feminist analysis and strategy from the bottom up, from experiences that will be valid for women as well as men.

Conclusions

Financial crisis erupted in the USA three years ago. However, in the European media it has already undergone an intriguing discursive transformation. It is no longer described as the crisis triggered by speculative bubble, fictitious debt based financial products, and deregulation of financial sector. The critiques, such as one by George Soros who had framed it as the crisis of financial capitalism faded away. Suddenly the responsibility for solving the crises is shifted to people, who are reconstituted as major cause of the crisis. How it is done? Step one has been to put the the spotlight on budget deficits, while the causes of the budgetary deficits (bailing out falling banks) are removed from the agenda. Step two has been to reconstitute budget deficit and public debt as major causes of crises that need to be addressed with a variety of social austerity measures. In this way spending on people (or in other words on social reproduction) is constituted as the cause of the crises that is being addressed. Step three: with crises reinvented, what actually caused it: neoliberal governance with its mantra of deregulating social rights in the name of facilitating business growth, cutting public spending and privatizing social sectors is brought back as the solution to the problems that contributed to the crisis in the first place. Following the G20 meeting in March, the IMF recommended a four pillar strategy to preserve fiscal solvency: 1) temporary stimulus measures; 2) clear government commitment to fiscal correction
once the conditions improve; 3) structural reforms to improve growth and medium-term revenues and 4) commitment to health and pension reforms in countries facing demographic pressures.

I began this paper with the example of five murdered women sales reps of Provident to argue that financial crisis is not only an issue of making new products from debt, unfettered speculation and myopic quest for profits in financial markets.
It can hardly be called a financial crisis - financial markets, bailed out banks and subsidized investors are doing well. All countries in the region used anti-crisis measures to strengthen investors and businesses at the expense of protecting households. Now the increased budget deficits and growth in public debt are treated as an excuse to continue neoliberal public sector reforms. It is not the crisis of the financial sectors - it is the the crisis of social reproduction, of people’s capacities to maintain and reproduce their lives. As the experience from former crises teaches us (Young, 2000) markets can rebound quickly, but it takes a long time for households to recover, if they recover at all.

It is a political crisis, in a sense of fundamental democratic deficits when decision making powers migrate to ministries of finance and IFIs, to business lobby Lobby
Lobbies
A lobby is an entity organized to represent and defend the interests of a specific group by exerting pressure or influence on persons or institutions that hold power. Lobbying consists in conducting actions aimed at influencing, directly or indirectly, the drafting, application or interpretation of legislative measures, standards, regulations and more generally any intervention or decision by the Public Authorities.
groups, to unaccountable expert groups and committees. Decisions which commit generations to pay for the crisis are taken in ministerial cabinets, on terms of economic emergency laws (Sheurman, 2000). From political perspective this is a systemic crisis of neoliberal techno-economic paradigm of governance. Neoliberal state operates according to the logic of the investment firm, the government has become a chief accountant of state budget, with citizens, and all country’s resources recategorized as assets or liabilities.

The key issues at stake are to regain democratic control, to challenge the migration of political sovereignty to capital, to socialize and subordinate markets to universal and indivisible human, including women’s rights.

Let us also be straighforward, with the existing coping strategies of poor people in he region exhausted - which is what World Bank admits in its own studies – the implementation of neoliberal anti-crisis policies to populations ravished with war and poverty will kill. In August last year one of the participants of the research project on women and poverty in the context of financial crisis , a 54 years old laid-off worker of Glass Works Krosno in Poland without a chance to find a new job, and without any meaningful social assistance, succinctly summarized what is taking place: “ they are not allowing to die people who are are in terminal pain, but they are making us die. If this is not a social euthanasia, then what it is? “

Ewa Charkiewcz, July 20, 2010

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Footnotes

[1See Provident Financial website www.provident.financial.com, and Personal International Finance corporate portfolio with key information at http://markets.ft.com/ft/tearsheets/businessProfile.asp?s=UK:IPF

[2Iza Michalewicz. The price of a sales representative [Cena Repa] Polityka no 22/2009

[3Bank’s profits increase in first quarter of 2010. http://gielda.onet.pl/zyski-bankow-juz-rosna,18727,3215248,1,prasa-detal

[4http://www.kmu.gov.ua/control/publish/article?art_id=235389961 Ministry of Regional Development and Building: Anti-Crisis Program of the Government in building area solves a series of problem issues of the branch 14-08-2009

[5Polish Press Agency PAP, January 22, 2010, 11:22

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