The World Region
My thanks again go out to the World Bank InfoShop for the opportunity to hear and meet former World Bank Chief Economist—and, indeed, Nobel Laureate—Joseph Stiglitz, who came to speak yesterday about his new book, "Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy". His trademark frank analysis was both refreshing and enlightening; especially interesting, if troubling, was his view that central bankers’ inflation-hawk instincts will increase the likelihood of a double-dip recession.
This was a very general presentation about some of the hubristic, anti-regulatory thinking that created the conditions for the recent crisis and the errors in countries’ responses to it. Stiglitz also excoriated the failures of political will and the power of the strongly entrenched, well-represented interests currently standing in the way of true reform. These are his views, of course—I make no claims to know enough about what “really” happened to be authoritative on the subject, other than to say that his arguments were persuasive and his examples illuminating.
One subject I was surprised to hear him discuss, however, was the role of interconnected global capital markets in financial crises. This was a key issue raised after the Asian crisis in the late 1990s; less so for the current “great recession”—although Stiglitz’s tag line that this was a crisis “made in America” and exported around the world reflects a common conclusion of much recent analysis.
Just back from London where MIGA launched its new report, World Investment and Political Risk, and partnered with the Financial Times to host a symposium on Managing Global Political Risk. The event was standing-room only, packed with experts from the political risk insurance industry. Debate was lively on the future for investing in emerging markets, managing global political risk in uncertain times, and whether investors are moving into a riskier world.
One joy of working within the World Bank Group is the access to great lectures from brilliant and creative thinkers on issues of relevance to the global economy and international development. Today, I had the opportunity to listen to Robert Skidelsky, acclaimed author of a three-volume biography of John Maynard Keynes, and, most recently, of Keynes: Return of the Master. He provided an interesting picture of how Keynes – one of the primary forces behind the creation of the Wor