The human dimension of global slowdown Choices and limitations

The impact of global slow down is everywhere. Such impact is both economic and human. The extent of these impacts differs between countries and among different income groups. Economic impact can be investigated by posing some questions such as how to make monetary policy compatible with fiscal policy to stimulate demand. What are the policies for investment spending? How to devise safeguard measures to lessen the impact of insolvencies of government owned banks on credit markets? However, the judgments for human impact are not very simple. It is subjective and depends on broader spectrum of human choices and limitations.

With regards the future of remittance economy for instance, the economic impact can easily be seen in the retrenchment of workers abroad. Two scenarios emerge. Economic slowdown in Southeast Asia and Gulf countries has necessitated Nepalese migrant workers to return home indicating poor prospects for increased foreign exchange earnings. On the contrary, the forex reserve is still encouraging because of the devaluation of the US dollar, received as remittances in rupees terms. As there is also the continuation of fresh migration because of the opening up of additional destinations, while calculating damages, additional employment opportunities should not be ruled out. Therefore, it is difficult to precisely estimate the impact of global recession on the level and trend of remittance flow.

Economic justification of the major crisis should be interpreted carefully. After Mexican peso devaluation in 1994 and reemergence of currency depreciation in the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore, some leaders were even heard recommending international trade in foreign currency be banned in an effort to protect currencies from speculative attacks. But now speculation for making profits can not be restricted at a time when barriers to international financial transactions have been lifted.

At times, somewhat low scale significant problem is linked with major shocks, which makes priority policy prescriptions ineffective. For example, the stock exchange contributes little to Nepal’s economy compared to banking and real sectors. Very few people pledge money on stocks and negligible numbers invest in bonds and mutual funds. Therefore, stock market decline should not hurt most Nepalese. As in the developed countries like United States, more than 60% of the citizens invest their money in stocks, the crisis largely affects relatively better off community. Misinterpretation of likely negative impact without proper qualification discourages the development of infant capital market.

Let us take another example, skyscrapers owned by economically healthy owners and built in Kathmandu’s fragile soil may be at risk from 5 Richter scale earthquake but one or two-storied moderately built house owned by low income people may remain relatively unscathed. Some economists even observe that since Iran does not have access to most of international financial markets, it is less affected by the international financial crisis. Is the lesson then to be satisfied with unsophisticated economy? Is underdevelopment and relative closeness with outside economy is the blessings for not being affected by international crisis? If this is the case, Nepal already has achieved this stage which may remain the same for years to come.

The human dimensions, usually the forgotten aspect of human cost, is worth discussing. Media reveals, after a married couple lost their lucrative job, and stopped getting disposable diapers every week, they estimated that cloth diapers are saving them between $800 and $900 on their first child and will continue generating savings because they can be recycled or be resold.

As reported in “The Times”, a Beijing-based real estate company offered Chinese investors tours of homes for sale in the United States, which were priced between $500,000 and $1 million in Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. About 40 investors paid about $3,600 each for their tour. Is this the prospective emerging new business sector or an attempt to challenge the so-called disadvantages of global integration?

As posted online, a woman who lost a corporate job due to the recession in Ohio undertook a bartending course to better withstand the recession. The switching over the job, may never take her back to the corporate world. We presume she very well understands that. It should therefore, be interesting to establish linkages between compulsion, new motives for job satisfaction.

“Washington Post” reports that when a man was laid off from his $140,000-a-year construction management job, he kept on showing up at work, working without pay in a cluster of vacant cubicles just trying to make something out of nothing. It is just like taking booze when one is happy and taking booze when one is not happy anyway. Thanks to the global recession, inflation and prolonged depression has given birth to a new and emerging human dimensions from global economic woes.