You Produce, I Consume: Global Imbalances, Causes and Consequences

Saturday 31 October, 1.30pm until 3.00pm, Courtyard Gallery

In the ongoing playing out of the worst recession anyone can remember, and the first major downturn of the new era of globalisation, ‘the Anglo-Saxon model’ of capitalism stands indicted. One of the key explanations offered is simply that the US has been borrowing too much, its banks taking too many risks, leading the way for a Western consumer-led credit crunch. We hear that we have spent to the limit, maxed our national credit cards and now have to go on an austerity purge to get things back to normal. But the other side of the coin has been export-led growth in Asia, in particular China and India. So must Asians be persuaded to consume more, as we consume less in the West?

For some critics, the world economy is fundamentally out of balance. They warn that recent shifts in flows of global finance must be understood not at the level of consumer habits, but as a reflection of changes in the balance of global production. Are our efforts to reform and spend our way out of recession merely window dressing, obscuring more profound and far reaching changes taking place at the level of global production, trade and international financial flows? Is a ‘rebalancing’ of production and consumption possible in a global economy? Does the failure of the Anglo-Saxon model imply the failure of the the whole modern experiment in the pursuit of prosperity through a more integrated and globalised world economy? Is it merely a question of balance, or is consumption itself the problem – and should Asia be learning from our ‘mistake’? If so, how else can the emerging economies continue their rise out of poverty?

There is an ongoing discussion about whether the US government will pursue ‘Buy American’ plans, and the Chinese government has introduced a ‘Buy Chinese’ policy for all government procurement. Are trade wars inevitable as the old system unravels? Or could it be that we actually need more production all round? Was Carlyle right when he cried: ‘Produce! Produce! Were it but the pitifullest infinitesimal fraction of a Product, produce it, in God’s name!’?

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Philippe Legrain
visiting senior fellow, LSE’s European Institute; author, Immigrants: your country needs them and European Spring: Why Our Economies and Politics are in a Mess – and How to Put Them Right

Paul Mason
broadcaster; author, Financial Meltdown and the End of the Age of Greed; technology editor, BBC's Newsnight

James Matthews
management consultant; founding member, NY Salon; writer on economics and business

Dr Linda Yueh
fellow in economics, St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford; adjunct professor of economics, London Business School; economics editor, Bloomberg TV

Stuart Simpson
financial services professional; researcher and writer, emerging economies and quantitative finance

Produced by
Angus Kennedy convenor, The Academy; author, Being Cultured: in defence of discrimination
Stuart Simpson financial services professional; researcher and writer, emerging economies and quantitative finance
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