Bridging Silos, Breaking Silences: New Responses to Instability and Inequality
Desmond Tutu Center, New York
November 4-6, 2011
Click here to find program and conference material.
Here is the opening speech, and what follows is the welcome letter:
"Welcome to the inaugural conference of the Institute for New Economic Thinking's Young Scholars Initiative, to the cloistered setting of the Desmond Tutu Center where we will be living together for the next two days, and of course also to our little island of Manhattan, the epicenter of the modern global financial system.
Three years ago, in the aftermath of the collapse of Lehman and AIG, it was all-hands-on-deck downtown at the New York Fed, while Congress considered the legislation that gave rise to the TARP. Today, as we await the Greek default, it is all-hands-on-deck at the European Central Bank, while European political leaders consider the potential use of their own TARP, the European Financial Stability Facility. Once again, the fate of the global financial system seems to hang in the balance; financial instability is our appropriate first theme.
Today, the main slogan of the demonstrators downtown in Zuccotti Park—“We are the 99%”—raises our second theme, economic inequality. Extraordinary efforts were made, and are still being made, to prevent financial collapse, but unemployment remains high while longer term life prospects fall short of expectations. Debts incurred in rosier times now hang like a millstone around the neck of many, and their attempts to lift the weight by paying down the debt are acting as a constant brake on income expansion for the economy as a whole.
In both these respects, the times we are living in cry out for collective action, but politics seems to be broken while trust has been lost in the wisdom of the experts, specifically economists. “What needs to done?” is just as much our question as “How can we marshall our collective forces to do what needs to be done?” New economic thinking is needed, and that is what this weekend is all about. Our historic task, which we shoulder gladly, is to do that new economic thinking, and to form the next generation of economic thinkers.
Senior Advisor, Institute for New Economic Thinking