11 Nobel Prize-winning visitors announced at G-Global Initiative promotion

17 февраля 2012, 14:03

This year’s Fifth Astana Economic Forum will boast 11 Nobel Prize winners, the head of a high-powered group of economists from countries in the former Soviet Union has announced.

Murat Karimsakov’s announcement came at a press conference this week at which he and four other senior economists endorsed the G-Global Initiative, President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s proposal to make the world economic system fairer.

In addition to the initiative, the main themes at the Eurasian Economic Club of Scientists’ press conference Wednesday were the Astana Economic Forum in May and a Web site that has become a lively international platform for G-Global discussion.

Karimsakov kicked off the press conference at the Economic Institute by announcing that an astounding 11 Nobel laureates have agreed to attend this year’s Astana Economic Forum from May 22 to 24.

Those at the fourth annual forum last year thought the organizers had pulled off a coup by attracting seven Nobel winners – one of the largest gatherings of laureates in one place ever.

If the 11 Nobel winners who have committed to this year’s event actually show, it will constitute a phenomenon rather than a coup. And it will add more luster to the Astana Economic Forum’s reputation as one of the world’s premier economic conferences.

As in the past, the glittering array of speakers at this year’s forum will include politicians, former heads of state, government economic ministers, heads of central banks, top corporate executives and renowned academics, Karimsakov said.

President Nazarbayev will deliver the opening address at the conference, as he has at every forum to date, said Karimsakov, who is chairman of the Eurasian economists group’s executive board.

Joining Karimsakov at this week’s press conference were Mikhail Fedorov, president of Russia’s Ural State Economic University; Hanon Barabaner, president of Estonia’s Institute of Economic Management; Nuriddin Kaumov, head of Tajikistan’s Economic Research Institute; and Anatolyi Spitsyn, a Russian whose credentials include advising the Eurasian Economic Community on the free-trade blocs known as customs unions.

Fedorov, Barabaner, Kaumov and Spitsyn spoke mostly about the G-Global Initiative that President Nazarbayev unveiled on December 15 of last year. The initiative was part of the president’s speech commemorating Kazakhstan’s 20th anniversary of independence on December 16, 1991.

The main focus of the G-Global Initiative is expanding the number of countries that collectively create the major policies that shape the world economy.

Nazarbayev has long contended that the Group of Eight and the Group of Twenty nations have too much power over the global economic agenda – a point that Fedorov, Barabaner, Kaumov and Spitsyn supported at the press conference.

Another Nazarbayev initiative that goes hand in hand with G-Global is achieving a new global currency to replace the dollar – or at least a basket of regional currencies. The dollar’s status as the de-facto international currency gives the United States too much power over the world economy, critics say.

The Group of Eight, or G8, include most of the countries with the world’s largest economies -- the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Russia.

The G20 consists of the G8 plus the European Union and 11 other developed or nearly developed nations. One is China, which has the world’s second-largest economy. The others are South Korea, India, Australia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico.

Kaumov contended that the policies that the G8 and G20 pursue are based on self-interest and not the interest of the global community as a whole.

Although there are 198 countries in the United Nations, Barabaner pointed out that neither the G8 nor G20 includes a representative from Eastern Europe or Central Asia, and the G20 has only one African member – South Africa.

“Ninety percent of the countries in the world have no voice in these (G8 and G20) forums,” Canada’s Nobel-Prize winning economist Robert Mundell said last month. Mundell, who has spoken at several Astana Economic Forums, said this imbalance has led to many countries adopting trade-protection, exchange-rate and other cross-border economic policies unilaterally.

Murat Karimsakov

Murat Karimsakov. Photo courtesy of Murat Karimsakov

Karimsakov noted that some economists believe the world needs a G70 to set fairer international economic policies.

That kind of grouping would include many developing countries whose voices are not heard in the current system, he said.

Barabaner said an effort to expand the community of nations that plays the biggest role in setting global economic policy would be “one of the most important tasks of the forthcoming Astana Economic Forum.”

Spitsyn said the United Nations should consider another Nazarbayev suggestion – that the U.N. play a major role in establishing and maintaining a global currency. Why should the United States alone make the key decisions about an international currency, he asked.

Acknowledging that it will take time for a new global currency to take hold, Spitsyn asserted that the effort needs to start. Some experts say it will take 20 years before we see a new global currency. Others say it will take longer – a generation.

Meanwhile, a Web site devoted to discussion and debate of the G-Global Initiative is drawing 3,000 visitors a day, Karimsakov enthused.

The Eurasian Economic Club of Scientists founded the site so that people “across the world can participate in this debate,” he said.

Karimsakov said there have been more than 500,000 visits to the site since it was created last month. It has 18,000 registered users, he added.

The number of visits indicates that it has quickly become one of the world’s most popular online economic forums, he said.

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