World Economy, Ecology & Development
International Expert Meeting
The debate on a "New Financial Architecture", which had started after the Asian crises, has considerably lost momentum. It is time for civil society to make a balance and to look into the further perspectives. This is the background on which WEED will organize an international expert meeting: "MAKING FINANCIAL MARKETS WORK FOR DEVELOPMENT - OPTIONS FOR REDUCING INSTABILITY & FINANCING DEVELOPMENT"
This conference comes at a critical time when financing development is on the agenda of the richest countries in an unprecedented way as they wrestle with how to pay for the Millennium Development Goals. Yet for development to be meaningful there is the necessity of reducing instability in the financial system, too.
The conference will review the progress made in recent years to counter capital market failures and identify some of the new issues, such as harmful tax practices, that are emerging on the global agenda. Combining academics, policy-makers, civil society activists and journalists, the conference will provide an opportunity to improve our collective understanding of the key issues and to pool our thoughts about how best to implement solutions. Therefore, the last part of the conference will be dedicated to the further strategy of civil society.
The working language of the conference will be English.
This project is co-financed by the Commission of the European Union and the Heinrich Böll Foundation
Friday 28 November: 14.00 - 19.00
Session 1: On the road to nowhere?
14h00 Chair's opening remarks - Peter Wahl, Member of WEED executive board.
14h10 WHERE HAVE ALL THE PROMISES GONE? A balance of the debate on the "New Financial Architecture" Stephany Griffith-Jones, University of Sussex, UK.
15h00 Questions, comments and discussion.
15h45 Coffee Break.
16h15 TAKING THE POLITICAL TEMPERATURE - FFD update - IFF/ Monterrey process / financing the MDGs/ barometer of political will Martin Köhler, Campagna per la Riforma della Banca Mondiale, Rome.
16h45 Questions, comments and discussion.
17h30 Panel Discussion - Jürgen Zattler(German Ministry for Development), Heribert Dieter (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik), N.N. (Deutsche Bundesbank).
19h00 End of session.
Saturday 29 November: 9.00 - 19.00
Session 2: The Costs of Financial Instability?
09h00 Chair's introductory remarks.
09h15 THE BUBBLE BURSTS - Reasons and perspectives of the financial markets crash and its consequences for the South" Jan Kregel, UNCTAD* - Questions, comments and discussion.
10h30 AT THE BOTTOM OF THE HIERARCHY - The effects of exchange rate volatility on developing economies Gabriel Palma, Cambridge University - Questions, comments and discussion.
11h15 Coffee Break.
11h45 BASLE II - BENEFITS FOR DEVELOPING COUNTRIES? The effect of the new Basle agreement on developing countries. Martina Metzger, BIF - Berlin Institute for Financial Market Research.
12h15 Questions, comments and discussion.
Session 2 continued
13.45 WHAT STABILITY HAS GOT TO DO WITH IT ? The impact of financial services liberalisation on stability N.N. - Questions, comments and discussion.
14h45 SIN ESPERANZA ? The Argentine Crisis: Reasons, dynamics, solutions Fernando Cardim de Carvalho, University Rio de Janeiro - Questions, comments and discussion.
15h45 Coffee Break.
Session 3: Making progress? A review of recent intitiatives
16h00 Chair's introductory remarks.
16h05 TOBIN TAX - WHERE NOW? Achievements and challenges in the field of international taxation Bruno Jetin, University of Paris - Questions, comments and discussion.
16h50 HARMFUL TAX PRACTISES - WHO WINS, WHO LOSES? The case for an international campaign against aggressive tax practises John Christensen, Tax Justice Network, UK - Questions, comments and discussion.
17h50 BREAKING THE HEGEMONY OF THE DOLLAR? The EURO in the reform of the international financial system. What benefits for the South? Jörg Huffschmid, University of Bremen.
18h20 Questions, comments and discussion.
19h00 End of session.
Sunday 30 November: 9.00 - 14.00
Session 4: Roads to alternatives
09h00 Chair's opening remarks.
09h05 ELEMENTS OF A COHERENT REFORM PACKAGE - NN, Questions,comments and discussion.
10h00 NO MORE COOKING THE BOOKS - A modest proposal for reform of International Accounting Standards Richard Murphy, Association for Accountancy & Business Affairs, UK - Questions,comments and discussion.
10h45 Coffee Break.
11h00 Next steps: Break into groups to discuss campaign issues - suggested themes will be agreed previously.
13h00 Brief report backs and final discussions.
14h00 Close of conference.
*to be confirmed.
The 1998 Asian Crisis triggered a global debate on the need for reform of the international financial system. Even within the neo-liberal establishment there was a general recognition that the absence of mechanisms to ensure financial stability has been damaging, particularly to the interests of developing countries.
Some institutional measures have been implemented, including the establishment of the G20, the creation of the Financial Stability Forum, revision of the regulatory guidelines of the Basle Committee on Banking Supervision (Basle II), and some limited measures to strengthen the regulation of offshore banking.
Civil society actors have also taken up on the issue. By putting a currency transaction tax (CTT - widely known as the Tobin Tax) on the international agenda, they have scored some degree of political success. The campaign for a Tobin tax that started with an emphasis on taxing the activities of currency speculators, has become re-energised in certain quarters by the opportunity it presents to substantially fund development.
Since 1998, however, despite mounting awareness of the risks posed by liberalised capital markets, the dynamics of the reform process have slowed or even suffered reversals. The OECD initiative to counter harmful tax competition, for example, was almost halted by the withdrawal of US support, and attempts to reform international accounting standards have been seriously thwarted by strenuous governmental lobbying by accounting practitioners.
An accumulation of events in recent years, including the bursting of the so-called `dot-com' bubble, the emergence of widespread accounting and audit failures (with Enron being just one of a host of examples)
and the total collapse of the neo-liberal experiment in Argentina, have broadened the scope of public concern about the regulation of financial markets.