Political and Social Unrest Ensnare the Globe
Egypt and Tunisia were not the only countries hit by severe unrest. They are just the highest profile cases in a list of many countries which experienced unrest because of deteriorating economic troubles - and that is for the first month of 2011 alone.
The fear of a chain-reaction of unrest is far from baseless. Global unemployment remains at record highs, with widening income inequality adding to social strains.
“Indeed, we face the prospect of a ‘lost generation’ of young people, destined to suffer their whole lives from worse employment and social conditions,” IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said in a speech in Singapore at the beginning of February. “Creating jobs must be a top priority not only in the advanced economies, but also in many poorer countries.”
Energy prices are rising swiftly, reflecting rapid growth in the emerging economies. Food prices are also rising with potentially devastating consequences for low-income countries. Already, raw sugar futures have climbed to their highest level in three decades and white sugar prices reached a record peak.
Together, these increases are beginning to feed into headline inflation.
These economic factors could be the spark to set off a powder keg of long endured repression, impoverishment and inequality and make 2011 the year of global discontent.