As the world still struggles with the aftershocks of a global financial crisis and a global rise of protests, it is ever more apparent that global leaders are struggling to deal with effectively addressing the numerous crises coming from all directions. Thierry de Montbrial argues that this is a systemic problem, brought about by weak systems still struggling to find their footing after the double-whammy of economic and political crises spreading throughout our globalized world. We have witnessed, in essence, a live demonstration of the butterfly effect.
In late 2013, the World Economic Forum published its annual Outlook on the Global Agenda. The report provides insight on the global challenges of the upcoming 12 to 18 months. By collecting views and opinions from more than 1,500 global experts of business, government, academia, and civil society, the report offers a comprehensive overview of the world, the most pressing issues shaping our societies, and anticipates the changes to come.
Saudi Arabia’s decision to turn down a coveted seat on the United Nation’s Security Council appears curiously at odds with the value it places on status. For years, however, the Kingdom has maintained a foreign policy that is ambivalent and remains mysteriously apathetic on a number of regional and international issues. Whatever the various factors that informed its decision, the move could be misinterpreted as a reluctance to be actively involved in global affairs.
The G20 mainly deals with the global imbalances through focusing on macroeconomic and financial stability, stimulating growth and job creation. The global business community gives special importance to the G20 governments’ policy coordination efforts, and in the last 5 years, all policy efforts were focused on the global financial crisis. Today we should contemplate a new question: If there will be no crisis agenda in the upcoming period, what should be the new agenda items of the G20? Even if there is no crisis agenda in the medium term, global imbalances will be here to stay. Moreover, enhanced globalization and rising interdependencies require enhanced policy coordination tools. So it is obvious that the G20 platform will need to last in the long term.
“There isn’t a word for ‘entrepreneur’ in Colombia. The closest term they have is probably ‘drug lord,’” Judy Robinette quipped to an audience of international business women in Salt Lake City while discussing her work with the World Bank building a culture of entrepreneurship in Colombia.
Her facetious statement has some tough truths behind it. Latin America has lagged behind on the global stage for much of the past century, and was passed by during the economic boom years before the Great Recession by the likes of China and India. But tough times and the creative disruption—or destruction—of all the old economic models are clearing the way to another chance for Latin America. It will not come easily, though.
Each year, the World Economic Forum hosts a regional summit to discuss at the highest levels the issues Latin America faces. The 2013 World Economic Forum on Latin America came at a moment as growing fears over China’s slowing economy and frustrations over the rising costs of doing business (both economic and social) are finally convincing some manufacturers to transfer their production contracts to factories in their own hemisphere.
G8 leaders can keep the momentum of global financial reform rolling.
In April 2013, it was announced that the Commodities Future Trading Commission (CFTC) is investigating Wall Street banks and the London-based firm ICAP, the world’s largest broker of interest rate swaps, for what has been called the twin brother to the LIBOR interest rate-fixing scandal of 2012. Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone detailed how up to 15 megabanks, including Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Barclays, UBS, and the Royal Bank of Scotland may have been colluding with a small group of brokers at ICAP to manipulate the ISDAfix number used to calculate the prices of interest rates swaps used for debt-management by big cities, sovereign governments, and major corporations. Perhaps, as a U.S. federal judge said in his ruling dismissing a class action lawsuit against the banks for LIBOR-related offenses, it was our own fault for thinking banks were in a competitive market.
Iranian diplomats were all smiles as they resumed ties with a rising African country at the 12th Islamic Summit in Cairo. The event on the evening of February 6th included a photo-op handshake and a signing ceremony, but the historic agreement Iran signed at Cairo’s Fairmont Hotel was signed not with Egypt--but with Senegal.
When Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi and his Senegalese cohort Monsieur Mankeur Ndiaye signed a pledge to increase ties between the two important Muslim states and re-exchange ambassadors, it marked the latest turn in an often-tumultuous Iranian-Senegalese relationship. In 2011, Senegal dramatically broke ties with Iran after claiming Senegalese rebels had been receiving Iranian weapons. Though Senegal pledged to maintain economic ties, the blow was damaging for Tehran. The timing of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) conference allowed for a personal meeting between Iranian President Ahmadinejad and Senegalese President Macky Sall, who was elected in 2012.
The United Nations General Assembly began its 67th annual session overshadowed by the global economic crisis, rising tensions over Iran’s nuclear program, and a war in Syria that has sharply divided members of the Security Council.
Ban Ki-moon, the UN’s eighth Secretary-General, opened with a stark warning about the challenges facing the world today. “This year, I am here to sound the alarm about our direction as a human family,” Ban said. “This is a time of turmoil, transition and transformation—a time when time itself is not on our side.”
Vuk Jeremić, the 193-member assembly’s new president, said that “the next 12 months are probably not going to be remembered as the easiest 12 months in the history of mankind.” The international community is “faced with a deteriorating security situation in a number of corners of the world,” he added, even as it continues to struggle with the global economic crisis. The peaceful resolution of international disputes, he said, would be the Assembly’s guiding theme for the next 12 months.
During Ministerial Week (September 24th to 30th), more than 120 presidents, prime ministers, and monarchs gathered in New York for meetings and high-level sideline discussions to address issues ranging from global security to the rule of law, human rights, sustainable development, and economic governance. The ministerial session turned out to be one of the busiest in the UN’s history. The following is a sampling of the best and, in some cases, perhaps the worst of what was said.
The world’s economy is at a crossroads. On one path, the problems plaguing our planet—food insecurity, population growth, climate change, resource limitations, security issues—threaten to overwhelm our increasingly beleaguered institutions. On the other path, thought leaders from all walks of life innovate solutions and models to address the global shift brought about by the Technology Revolution, and in the process, find new opportunities in previously intractable problems.
Global leaders, from both the public and private sectors, are acutely aware of the fine line we tread, but opportunities to address such issues at the international level are not always forthcoming. Too often, the summits designed to make progress on these issues are interrupted—the Euro crisis has been quite the distraction at the last few G8 and G20 meetings—or caught up in other concerns. The Asia-Pacific region, with the exception of a few major economies, has largely remained on the periphery of this economic drama, the 54 percent of the global GDP represented affected somewhat more lightly by the downturn.
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