Atelier n°. 0, article 1

Definitions and Descriptions of Economic Terms :

General Motors Corporation was ranked in 1995 as the wealthiest U.S. corporation, earning more than 168 billion dollars in revenues. This was equal to the annual wages of more than 19 million Americans earning the minimum wage in 1995.1

The U.S. federal government budget deficit is how much expenditures exceed revenues in a given fiscal year. In fiscal 1995, it was $165 billion.2

The U.S. federal government debt is the cumulative figure for how much the government owes at a given point in time (in other words, it’s the total of all the deficits, minus any surpluses). In late 1996, the debt stood at slightly more than 5 trillion dollars.3

"Little Money", "Big Money" and Capital :

A million dollars is one thousand times more than $1,000. Laid end-to-end, a million dollars’ worth of one-dollar bills would stretch almost 95 miles. Imagine yourself driving by them [in an automobile]. If you were traveling 65 miles an hour, it would take you almost an hour and a half to get past all those dollar bills. But a million dollars is nothing compared to a billion dollars....4

A billion dollars is a thousand times more than $1,000,000. It’s equal to a stack of crisp, new dollar bills twelve times as high as the Empire State Building. If you laid those dollar bills end-to-end, they’d stretch from New York to Los Angeles and back sixteen times, and you’d still have enough left over to go from New York to Mexico City and back. If you drove seven days a week, twelve hours a day, and averaged 65 miles an hour while moving, it would take you almost four months to drive past a billion dollars’ worth of dollar bills. But a billion dollars is nothing compared to a trillion dollars....5

A trillion dollars is a thousand times more than $1,000,000,000 or a million times more than $1,000,000. It is equal to a stack of crisp, new dollar bills almost three thousand miles high. If you laid that pile down on its side, packed tightly together, it would stretch from New York to Los Angeles. If you took that same trillion dollars in dollar bills and laid it down end-to-end, it would stretch from New York to Los Angeles and back about 17,000 times --or from the earth to the sun and then around it. If you started a business the day Christ was born and it lost a million dollars a day, you’d still have more than 700 years to do before you lost a trillion dollars.6

1Kevin Danaher, Corporations are Gonna Get Your Mama (Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 1996), p.17.
2Mark Zepezauer, Take the Rich of Welfare, (Tucson, AZ: Odonian Press, 1996), p.150.
3 Ibid.
4Ibid., p.154.
5Ibid., pp.148-49.
6Ibid. , p.156.

Capital Loans :

The international debt crisis has now dragged on for a dozen years. The debt burden of developing countries now stands at 1.7 trillion, U.S. dollars, of which 278 billion U.S. dollars, or roughly 17 per cent, is owed to the World Bank and the IMF. The poorest countries, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, are simply not able to meet their debt payments, while in many economically better-off nations development has been stymied while interest payments are made. Although the IMF and the World Bank have large liquid reserves, they refuse to reduce or reschedule the debt owed them, taking no responsibility either for projects that have failed or for stabilization and adjustment programs that have led to severe economic recession and an exacerbation of national debt burdens. 

The 50 Years Is Enough Network therefore calls for : 

The immediate cancellation of 100 per cent of the outstanding debt owed the IBRD and IMF by the Severely Indebted Low-Income Countries and 50 per cent of that owed by Severely Indebted Lower-Middle Income Countries. The World Bank and IMF should use their respective liquid and gold reserves (17 billion U.S. dollars and 35 billion U.S. dollars, respectively) to write off this debt without applying structural adjustment conditionality.