Friday, January 29, 2010

On a major rethink of capitalism, moral trade, Davos, G20 and global governance, etc!

Recent intellectual policy endevours:

1) Who elected the G20 to make policy and regulatory decisions that the whole world will then "have" to adhere to?

That is one of the tweets I made in the last few days (again). A question I began to pose ever since a few months ago, under US/Obama Presidency, the G7/G8 decided to pass the torch of global leadership if not governance to G20 (after the end of the Canadian presidency).

What prompted me to tweet it again? Some of the comments by the "philosopher king", in Plato's use of the term, Nicolas Sarkozy, probably the only major political leader who cares to brainstorm in public (and upsets the balance of some other leaders who are not used to that "kind of thing"). Especially one where he says that G20 may be the sign of things to come, a global governance. But whereas I would be for a democratic global government (see below), I do not consider G20 "representative" of the world or even the UN members world or even the WTO members world.

So here is what I can think of in terms of models of real global governance:

G20 may be "more" representative (of the world) than G8 but leaves out 100+ WTO and UN members.

IMO a World Commission, Council and Parliament a la EU (EU style) is one solution

IMO again, an other solution would be for the world to be structured into regional blocs, EU or US style, and have bloc leaders and reps meet to decide world policies and laws. In other words, instead of G20, a global government group should consist of: reps of the EU, African U, China, India, USA, 2-3 American Unions, 2 Asian Unions, Russia ....

I know that both models I sketch above are kinda radical thinking, but hey, a) that is my task as a policy thinker and b) that, fundamental (re)thinking seems to be the "in" thing these days, not only because of Nicolas Sarkozy.

2) One other major thing that Nicolas Sarkozy said in Davos at the World Economic Forum was his view of the need for a "fundamental rethink of capitalism".

Here are my comments (most were tweeted in the last 2 days)

* A fundamental rethink of capitalism? Of which capitalism (note: of all versions floating around these days)?

* A fundamental rethink of capitalism that N. Sarkozy proposes: Is that a task for economists, politicians, sociologists, philosophers, all?

* A capitalism that includes moving away from profit as the MAIN goal of business, ie give emphasis to micro and small companies instead of corporations. Via a new socio-economic model that includes among others much less regulation and simpler laws. Why? Because, IMO, in micro and SME based economies, profit maximisation is but one many goals, unlike large corporation based ones. Because micros and small firms are motivated by owners' ambitions, pride and other non-profit related goals, not maximising shareholder value per se.

* IMO it is not just capitalism that need a fundamental rethink: Most models and theories of past centuries still "in circulation" do!
In need of fundamental rethink: capitalism, marriage, sovereignty, national interest, "work", economy, trade, legal systems, finance, etc. But most of all, in need of fundamental rethink are: our ways of life especially in the "West" (Europe, USA, etc)

3) A "moral dimension" to "free" trade Nicolas Sarkozy is "searching" for!

IMO, that moral dimension would be "free" immigration among WTO member countries.

4) Other fundamental rethinks that IMO are in order:

a) In view of discussions re sovereignty and national interest (in the UK, US, etc), is there not a need for a 2010 relevant redefinition of them?
I find most recent discussions re sovereignty and national interest a tad "selective". Are trade, sovereign wealth fund and other investments, trade agreements, WTO, COP15 etc consistent with traditional definition of sovereignty? Why are then not included in the lists of those who think the EU is "violating" sovereignty of member states (IMO the Lisbon exit clause that allows/describes how a member state to/can leave the EU is an "ultimate" guarantee of the sovereignty of the member states)? Or are concerned about "foreigners" (see other posts in this blog re oxymora that I detect in the "foreign" discussions/rationales)?

b) Corporatism, in business, public sector, and other aspects of life is another candidate IMO for a major rethink in the way Nicolas Sarkozy proposes.

PS 1. New world economy order: China has approx. USD 2.4 trillion in foreign currency reserves and half of world output comes from developing countries these days!

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