The videoconference for Vi core member, the Belarus State Economic University, held March 2, gathered approximately 20 undergraduate and graduate students, as well as their professors, for a presentation of the findings of UNCTAD's Trade and Development Report (TDR) 2018, entitled “Beyond Austerity: Towards a Global New Deal.”
Trade and Development Report is the flagship publication of UNCTAD, prepared annually by the Division on Globalization and Development Strategies. It consists of two main parts: the first one presents an analysis of the state of the world economy, while the second takes up one or several long-term development issues.
UNCTAD's senior economist and Officer-in-Charge of the Virtual Institute, Igor Paunovic, began the presentation with a discussion of the recent trends in the world economy. He highlighted the fact that the world economy was growing at a higher rate than in the previous years, but that the growth was still slower than in the period preceding the crisis of 2008-2009. In addition, there was also the issue of the current economic fragility in the context of a weak global demand and the policy mix characterized by lax monetary policy coupled with fiscal austerity.
The second part of the presentation discussed the main contributors to rising inequality in the world economy, such as robotization, financialization, gender inequality and growing rent-seeking behavior stemming from corporate market power.
“All these tendencies come to the fore at a time when the world economy has been growing at a much slower pace than in the previous period, which adversely affects the possibility of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,” Paunovic said.
The discussion that followed gave students an opportunity to highlight their concerns, giving the presenter an opportunity to give more details on some of the current issues and challenges facing the world economy and the need for an alternative route to build more sustainable and inclusive economies.
Questions by the students included, among others, the recent US tax reform, the likelihood of the EU becoming a driver of the world economy, the issue of manufacturing versus services as a driver of growth at the national level, and the way China’s One Belt, One Road initiative could bring dynamism to global demand.
Paunovic concluded the presentation by stressing the need of a global new deal if the international community is serious about achieving Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Key measures would include abandoning fiscal austerity and instead pursuing pro-employment policies; enhancing public investment; seeking more fiscal space through adoption of a more progressive tax system; taming financial capital by regulating more forcefully the financial sector; curbing corporate power through stronger anti-trust policies; and undertaking concrete steps toward income redistribution.