Saturday, December 24, 2016

Dreaming about Creating a G25?

A while ago I proposed to form a new G24, not of nations but of individuals. Such a G24 could contribute to a better world, I thought. The G24 I envisioned would be a group that created ideas (and lobbied for them) in the interest of the world community rather than companies or power groups within countries. 

I received a few enthusiastic responses but the G24 I had in mind was not established. That is not surprising, perhaps, because it is unrealistic to think that you can create a global think group without a budget. 

Thirty years ago I managed to form precisely such an international group, the Forum on Debt and Development (FONDAD). But then I received core funding from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As a network and research center FONDAD still exists, and I am still its director. Since May 2008 FONDAD has operated without a budget. In fact I have been working for FONDAD more than eight years without being paid for it. This proves that it is possible to constitute, or rather continue, an international group without a budget. So could a G24 still be formed, building on members of the FONDAD network and including a few more thinkers with additional expertise (see below)? 
My proposal was and is that we create a network of 24 persons to exchange ideas about possible improvements in the global system. Yeah, I know that all kinds of groups and organizations are doing that. My point is, that the G24 I envisage - which might better be called G25 to avoid confusion with the existing G24 - gives an extra boost, both intellectual and practical. 
For me, the G25 would consist of 25 creative thinkers who are experts in the fields of politics and economics, socio-economic issues (including working conditions, unemployment, exclusion and income distribution), environment / ecology, and (maritime) transport. Why maritime transport? Because 90% of world trade goes via maritime transport. (And because I'm writing a book about world ports, together with my wife Aafke Steenhuis -- who besides being a writer is also a painter; she made the drawings on the cover of the two FONDAD books exposed.) 
To which profile must comply G25 members? I thought of the following:  
- You are curious, creative 
- You can listen to someone else 
- You speak at least two international languages (unfortunately these are European languages, unless you would like to include eg Russian, Chinese or Mandingo), besides English preferably also Spanish, French or Portuguese (see, eg, Global financial experts must understand French... and Global financial experts must play music...)
- You are a non-conformist (see, eg, Robert Triffin: "Most economists are demagogues"). 

I created FONDAD in 1986 when I was 38 years old. Now I'm 68 and soon will be 69. The G25 should consist of members whose ages range between, say, 25 and 85 years. Members are not expected to do anything else than occasionally contribute to the virtual discussion among G25 members. Examples of how I organised such virtual discussions in the past for members of the FONDAD network are:
Macro-prudential regulation 
Bill White: "The current financial system is inadequate
Three schools of thought on crisis prevention 
Asset Bubbles and Inflation 
Managing the crisis (1) 
Preventing the crisis (4)
Explaining the crisis (3) 
Explaining the crisis (1) 

I continued to moderate such discussions until last year but did not make them any longer public via this blog. If I would restart those discussions involvng people with the additional expertise I just mentioned, I don't intend to spend too much time on moderating the group, publishing its discussions and promoting its policy suggestions. Maybe someone else could do that. I am just too busy -- as are the people I'd like to involve. I'm afraid others will think the same and -- with rare exceptions -- would react by saying: It's a nice idea Jan Joost but, unfortunately, I won't have the time for participating. I would fully understand such reaction and therefore think a G25 will not emerge. However, I keep dreaming that maybe one day, before I am 85... 

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