Conference at the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences Conference at the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences 

Vatican Conference plots new paths for a just economy

Top world economists, finance ministers and a Nobel laureate are in the Vatican for a Conference to discuss new forms of economic solidarity, inclusion, integration and innovation for a more just and equal world.

By Linda Bordoni

Promoted by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, the event aims to propose and map out rules for a new economic model in times of increasing social and economic inequality.

Entitled “New Forms of Solidarity Towards fraternal Inclusion, Integration and Innovation”, the Conference aims to propose new rules for a supportive, inclusive and sustainable world, to discuss the role and responsibilities of international finance and to propose new ways to restore the ethical foundations of economics.

Climate change and the displacement of peoples were central to the interventions, and Pope Francis’ teachings and the Church’s social doctrine provided the backbone to the debate.

Power, People, Values

Nobel laureate, the US economist Joseph Stiglitz, entitled his keynote address “Global Economic Transformation: Power, People and Values”.

He told Vatican Radio that he highlighted the fact that capitalism is in crisis and said that he described the many aspects of this crisis which range from inequality to climate change to a moral crisis.

“I attributed a major part of these crises to the belief in unfettered markets, new liberalism, and I suggested a way forward,” he said.

Stiglitz explained that there are ways to reform the market economy and capitalism and restore a greater balance between markets, governments, civil society by creating a broader ecology of institutional arrangements, “with more emphasis on NGOs, on cooperatives and trying to introduce more solidarity, bring about more equality.”

He said he suggested that we could address both the inequality crisis and the climate crisis together: “there are policies that could create more social justice and more environmental justice.”

Stiglitz also said he focused on various reforms that have to be implemented both domestically and internationally, in terms of tax expenditure and on tackling the debt crisis which is facing many countries today, like Argentina.

He expressed his conviction that austerity measures do not work and that there is a better way to restore economic growth.

Restoring economic growth

Stiglitz revealed that he also suggested a way forward in the effort to restore a greater balance between markets, governments and civil society.

“I think we have to do many things, there is no silver bullet: we have to rewrite the rules of national economy, of global economy to reduce corporate power, to reduce tax evasion and avoidance, to create more progressive taxation, to give workers more bargaining power, encourage collective bargaining, strengthening unions, make sure that corporations don’t just pay attention to their shareholders but to all the stake holders including their customers, their workers, the communities in which they work and the planet on which we live and we have to rethink our international agreements, not in the way that President Trump is talking about: “America First” or any other body first; it’s the planet first and people first is what it’s about.    

Other speakers at the event included Bishop Sanchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the IMF, the American economist Jeffrey Sachs, as well as many Ministers of Finance and Cardinal Ladaria, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith who reflected on how finance must be seen and used as a tool for an inclusive world.

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05 February 2020, 16:48