The Group of 78 is proud to announce its annual conference for 2022, Transforming International Finance: toward Economic, Social and Planetary Justice. The global context for this conference is shifting profoundly. The weaknesses of the international financial order have not been resolved since they were exposed in the crisis of 2007-08. Debt distress is afflicting a growing number of countries in the Global South as well as households and businesses everywhere. Such problems will be exacerbated by the post-pandemic wave of stagflation, or more accurately, the evident policy response in the form of sharply higher interest rates. Global trade is being upended as a result of the Russia-Ukraine war. Moreover, failure to address the existential threat posed by the climate crisis make all other international problems, save the threat of nuclear war, seem trivial in comparison. In this larger context, transforming international finance will be necessary, if not sufficient, to secure economic, social and planetary justice.
An updated conference program, and registration can be found bellow. We have three keynote speakers, seven panelists and six moderators confirmed.
- $60.00 – Friday September 23: Join us in person at the University of Ottawa, Demerais Room 12102 . (Coffee break and lunch provided). Tickets are available for a limited time and quantity.
- $40.00 – Full conference pass – After purchasing this ticket you will receive invitations with links to the selected webinar and all the remaining webinars in the conference series. Links will be sent out 24 hours and 1 hour prior to each webinars start time.
- Free tickets are available for all webinars. You must register for each individually for free access
- Donations – all donation of $20.00+ will be provided with a charitable tax receipt
Thank you for your support, we could not continue our work without the support of members and attendees.
Friday September 23 University of Ottawa, Desmarais, Room 12102 in person or webinar:
9:45 am Introduction and welcome: Roy Culpeper, Chair, Group of 78
10:00 am ET
Keynote: Jim Stanford, Centre for Future Work, “Labour Markets, Climate Change, Finance, and Fair Transitions”.
Moderator: Susan Tanner
Discussions of employment transitions as we move toward a net-zero economy often are phrased in terms of “moving people” from fossil fuel jobs toward the new jobs that will be created as that transition proceeds: taking oilsands workers, for example, and hiring them (with retraining as needed) to manufacture windmills. This conception underemphasizes the multidimensional process of labour market adjustment that could facilitate effective transitions – so long as those transitions are staged, announced well in advance, and implemented gradually. The traditional assumption that we must find ‘another job’ (perhaps one in green energy activities) for every worker currently employed in a fossil fuel role is wrong, and makes the transition process more difficult than it needs to be. In fact labour market transitions are happening all the time. Harnessing those processes to facilitate a gradual movement away from FF work makes the task far more do-able, and could be accomplished without displacement or involuntary unemployment at all. This must be supported by measures to support retirement, relocation, and retraining, and by a general macroeconomic commitment to full employment (which makes all employment transitions easier). This narrative will be illustrated with examples from Canadian and Australian data.
11:00 am ET
Richard Kozul-Wright, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development: “Is a New Bretton Woods desirable—or possible? Reorienting Global Finance to Social and Ecological Goals”.
Moderator: Manfred Bienefeld
After the 2008–9 global financial crisis, reforms to promote stability, social inclusion, and sustainability were promised but not delivered. As a result, the global economic situation, marred by inequality, volatility, and climate breakdown, remains dysfunctional.
“Now, the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic offers us a second chance. Richard Kozul-Wright will argue that we must grasp it by implementing sweeping reforms to how we govern global money, finance, and trade. Without global leaders prepared to boldly rewrite the rules to promote a prosperous, just, and sustainable post-Covid world economic order – a Bretton Woods moment for the twenty-first century – we risk being engulfed by climate chaos and political dysfunction.
“Kozul-Wright provides a blueprint for change that no one interested in the future of our planet can afford to miss.”
12:30 ET In-person reception with lunch
2:00 pm ET
Keynote: Grace Blakeley, Tribune: “How to Save the World from Financialization”.
Host: Jen Hassum.
Moderator: Angella MacEwen
In the decade leading up to the 2008 financial crisis, booming banks, rising house prices and cheap consumer goods propped up living standards in the rich world. Thirty years of rocketing debt and financial wizardry had masked the deep underlying fragility of finance-led growth, and in 2008 we were forced to pay up.
The decade since has witnessed all kinds of morbid symptoms, as all around the rich world, wages and productivity are stagnant, inequality is rising, and ecological systems are collapsing.
Grace Blakeley’s Stolen: How to Save the World from Financialization (2019) is a history of finance-led growth and a guide as to how we might escape it. More recently in The Corona Crash (2020) she examines how the pandemic will change capitalism. We have sat back as financial capitalism has stolen our economies, our environment and even the future itself. According to Blakeley, we have an opportunity to change course. What happens next is up to us.
4:00 pm ET:
Keynote: Rosa Galvez, Senate of Canada: “Aligning finance with international climate commitments”.
Moderator: Bruce Campbell
Most financial reform proposals in recent years have centered on disclosure schemes that aim to identify and quantify the financial risks of climate change for businesses, in the hope that market participants and capital flows evolve accordingly. Unfortunately, this has not happened, squandering precious time the planet doesn’t have if we aim to attain the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels. This keynote will discuss the points of intersection between the financial system and our changing climate and will emphasize the opportunity to use legislation and regulation to align private financial flows with the country’s stated emissions reductions targets. In March 2022, Senator Galvez, a pollution expert and independent Senator from Quebec, introduced the Climate-Aligned Finance Act which seeks to provide an emissions reduction reporting and planning framework for federally regulated corporations as well as hold the financial sector accountable for their financed emissions. The legislation also creates a new fiduciary duty for directors, addresses conflicts of interest, ensures boards have climate expertise, and other measures to protect the financial system from climate-related systemic risk.
Monday September 26 at 12 Noon ET (Webinar):
Panel 1: Transforming the International Currency System.
From a system rife with volatility and prone to speculation, to one that strengthens domestic policy space and fosters shared prosperity.
Moderator: Eric Helleiner
Speaker: Mark Plant, Center for Global Development: “Future of the SDR”
In 2021, the IMF issued $650 billion worth of Special Drawing Rights to help countries face the financial challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. While lower- and middle-income countries (LMICS) used the SDRS to increase monetary and fiscal space, the bulk of the SDRs sit unused at central banks of advanced economies. Efforts to recycle rich countries’ SDRs to benefit LMICs have been slow. An IMF facility to receive SDRs has been established but is not yet operational. Efforts to recycle SDRs to multilateral development banks have been stymied.
This “experiment” in increasing global liquidity has raised interest in the SDR as a global monetary instrument. Should the SDR be reformed or replaced by another global currency? Discussions center on when and how to make best use of global reserves and whether a mechanism for sharing reserves is worth nurturing to be able to confront future crises more effectively.
The presentation suggests that since the end of Bretton Woods the position of the dollar as the key global currency strengthened rather than weakened, in contrast to conventional wisdom. It will analyze the reasons and the evidence for that view, and discuss how the more recent geopolitical developments, with the rise of China, and the current ongoing war in Ukraine might affect the future position of the dollar.
Tuesday September 27 at 12 noon ET (Webinar):
Panel 2: Transforming Banking, Monetary and Fiscal Policies.
Toward public institutions and policies that serve the national interest rather than international financial markets.
Moderator: Peter Venton
Speaker: Susan Spronk, University of Ottawa: “Public Banking and municipal -infrastructure”
Public banks are enjoying a modern-day resurgence in the financing for development agenda. Public banks have helped mitigate the global financial crisis of 2008-2009 and catalyze the much-needed financial investments needed to transition to a low-carbon, green economy. While there are over 900 public banks in the world, with US$49 trillion in assets, public banks have been largely underestimated as an important source of funding for municipal infrastructure. They have also been neglected by academic research and by mainstream policy organisations such as the World Bank. This presentation provides a brief history of public banking practices in the global North and South, drawing examples from the water and sanitation sector. It discusses the pros and cons of public banks as contested institutions in class-divided societies and assesses their potential for contributing to the financing needs of the Sustainable Development Goals related to water (SDG #6).
Speaker: Heather Whiteside, University of Waterloo: “Public Enterprise and the Future of Austerity”
In the wake of late twentieth century neoliberal privatization and state restructuring, the past few decades have been a time of ‘new state capitalism’ featuring expanded public finance and market intervention, made most evident through the international resurgence of state-owned enterprises utilized in varying ways by emerging market countries, within the liberal heartland, and amongst ‘illiberal’ countries ranging from China to the Gulf states. Within Canada alone, hundreds of Crown corporations exist at all levels of government, covering a wide swath of activities: banking, development, finance, gambling, energy, heritage, housing, insurance, land, liquor and lottery, mining, pensions, public works, research, telecommunications, and transportation. Focusing on activities related to banking, finance, insurance, and real estate, Whiteside explores how public ownership has been transformed through neoliberal ideals. The new state capitalism features public corporations that encourage the financialization of the state without necessarily improving other departments’ bottom line or services for the public at large. The purpose and activities of public enterprise must be realigned to challenge fiscal restraint and clawbacks. Public enterprise could be repurposed to serve the broader public good by providing funds for social services to circumvent the (imminent) pressures of austerity, reconnecting development policies to fiscal policies, and funding public investment in national projects through revenue earned from ownership.
Speaker: John Anderson, Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada: “Why postal banking is a form of public banking that can be realized in Canada”
Last year Canada Post began an experiment to introduce, in some areas of the country, some elements of postal banking. Is this an opening to bring back a full form of postal banking which existed in Canada from Confederation to the 1960s? And what should a full postal banking system look life and what could it do in a progressive economic, social and environmental sense as is the case with postal banks in many other countries? The speaker John Anderson is the author of several major policy studies for both the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and the Canadian Postmasters and Assistants Association on postal banking and is the author of the ground-breaking CCPA study Why Canada needs postal banking
Wednesday September 28 at 12 noon ET (Webinar):
Panel 3: Transforming Financial Innovation.
Toward democratizing and regulating financial innovation and technology.
Moderator: Mario Seccareccia
Speaker: Andrés Arauz, Citizen Revolution Movement, Ecuador: “Democratization of Fintech”
Innovation in financial technology is here to stay. There are risks of deepening privatization, deregulation and instability if the fintech agenda is not quickly disputed by progressive forces. Big Tech oriented “open banking” (à la PSD2) could entail delivering the payments and banking system to conglomerates such as the “GMAFIA” (Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, IBM and Apple). Cryptocurrencies could divert valuable talent, energy and entrepreneurial capital into a purely speculative business. The dollarization of cryptocurrency stablecoins risks a chronic retail-sized capital flight from developing countries. There are replicable alternatives available from developing country experiences. A cash-like Central Bank Digital Currency with an open innovation digital commons framework that stimulates locally pertinent and home-grown initiatives. These measures would have a dynamic effect in the democratization of central banks, as citizens discuss publicly and process politically. Financial regulators in developing countries cannot be decades behind the state of financial innovation and oblivious to currency substitution of domestic payment systems. Finally, to truly fulfill their mandates, governments and central banks have a duty to significantly invest in and coalesce a big data artificial intelligence digital commons for the regulation (“reg-tech”) and enforcement (“sup-tech”) of financial innovation (fintech), instability-inducing flows and illicit financial flows.
Speaker: Ulrich Bindseil, ECB:“How Central bank digital currencies can effectively serve people”
Central bank digital currencies can be seen either as a natural evolution in view of the unstoppable digitalization of payments and the good reasons to preserve the role of the central bank money, or as a revolution which can change fundamentally the respective roles of central bank and commercial bank money to the benefit of the former. Actually, a few parameters in the design of CBDC can make a difference on where to position it, i.e. closer to either a conservative or revolutionary innovation. The presentation will review both the fundamental choice between the two, as well as the parameters to direct CBDC in either direction. In any case, even taking the conservative attitude towards the role of CBDC, the importance of CBDC for citizens in a world of digitalised payments cannot be overestimated. Retail CBDC should be designed with the interests of citizens in mind and also address elements which are less in the focus of the private payment industry, such as privacy; being cost-free for citizens; low cost also for small merchants; offline functionality; inclusiveness. More generally, payments is a network industries in which easily a few dominant players gain market power and will tend to exploit it, and the continued availability of modern central bank money to citizens limits the room for this. The presentation will moreover discuss in this context the case of the digital euro.