April 20, 2018

9:00 - 10:30 AM

Host:
World Bank Group/IMF 2018 Spring Meetings

Co-sponsors:
Bretton Woods Project, CESR and the International Labour Organization

Location:
International Monetary Fund HQ2, 03B - 838B
1900 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20431

In 2008, the global financial crisis unleashed a cascade of social, economic and political developments still shaping our world today. After an initial set of counter-cyclical responses to the crisis, a widespread turn towards fiscal austerity has seemingly become the new normal around the world—resulting in what could only be called a lost decade for equality, development and human rights. Ten years on, the growing inequalities resulting from austerity are inspiring outrage and a growing demand for change. The economic nationalism, political populism and fundamentalism which emerged in the wake of austerity pose enormous threats if left un-countered. The almost-daily exposés of tax abuse by multinational companies and high-net wealth individuals contradicts the notion that fiscal adjustments are even necessary in the first place. The international community is re-thinking public financing models to make them more equitable, sustainable and accountable to allow for a new decade of socio-economic development with human rights to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Building on this momentum, this event aimed to bring together a cross-section of civil society, government, ILO and IMF officials to explore the political, economic and social implications of this Age of Austerity. Speakers provided evidence of how fiscal adjustment measures in various countries have impinged on human rights and the fight against economic and gender inequality. They discussed lessons learned in implementing economic and fiscal alternatives to austerity that are sound, and in accordance with the SDGs and internationally agreed conventions and recommendations. Speakers also explored ways in which the IMF can help expand fiscal space in countries facing fiscal stress to prevent the worst impacts of austerity, make progress toward the SDGs and to prevent another Lost Decade.

Speakers included:

Isabel Ortiz, Director of Social Protection, International Labor Organization (ILO)

Grazielle David, Policy Advisor, Institute for Socioeconomic Studies (INESC), Brazil

Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director, Center for Economic and Policy Research

Hreinn Pálsson, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Iceland in Washington D.C.

Jeffrey Franks, Director of the IMF Europe Office

Related:

Mark Weisbrot - Presentation pdf_small