OECD Forum 2011. Shifting wealth

Two panels in this session – emerging economies, and trade and investment. With an 8:30 start, most of us are looking more like early worms than early birds.

The first panel is far more dynamic, given the consensus in favour of more trade and investment. The emerging economy discussion takes an interesting turn when moderator Liam Halligan asks participants where the next IMF director should come from.

Indian finance minister Anand Sharma gives a diplomatic reply, saying global institutions should reflect global realities.

Anatoly Moskalenko from Russia’s Lukoil avoids answering a question concerning Russia’s acceptance by these institutions, saying simply that Russia would like to join the OECD and other bodies.

And then it’s back to the politicians. Brazilian Under-Secretary for Economic Affairs Valdemar Carneiro Leao describes the quantitative easing decided by the EU and US as “how can I put it: unorthodox”. He is less diplomatic later, reminding us how Brazil was preached at by the IMF and other institutions to be more liberal, but the regulations they kept in place saved their financial markets from the tsunami that hit the deregulators.

US Under-Secretary for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs defends US economic policy, saying it was needed to restore the health of the US economy.

WTO chief Pascal Lamy anticipates the next panel by talking about the Doha round. He says there’s agreement or near-agreement on most points, but tariffs on industrial products are a sticking point, and he’s worried by the increase in the share of world trade affected by protectionist measures.

Norway’s Finance Minister Sigbjorn Johnsen speaks with the compassion and peace of mind of a chancellery managing a budget surplus. He explains that human capital is a more important asset than oil. He’d rather discuss DSK’s succession at the IMF at the IMF, not the OECD.

Brazil puts the cat among the pigeons again by asking why the OECD is represented at the G20 given that it’s not a global institution. No reply, but there’s no OECD panellist.

Patrick Love

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