M-RCBG Senior Fellow-Led Study Group: Ioana Petrescu

The Political Economy of Populism
with Guest Speaker, Elias Papaioannou, London Business School

Monday, October 26, 4:30-5:30 
Zoom meeting. Registration required: https://harvard.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYsfuGtpzkvHd2oeUrD4ONapSVBd5KFskmY

The spectre of populism is haunting the West. Many argue that the wave of authoritarian populism poses an existential threat to the liberal world order, democracy, open markets, protection of minorities, civil liberties, and constitutional checks and balances. Even if one does not embrace such an extreme view, there are evident cracks in the system's foundations. Since Brexit, the European Union has lost a member, while an increasing number of Europeans views the Union with scepticism. Voters question globalization, protectionism is on the rise, and attacks on experts and the mainstream media are increasingly common. Hate crime against immigrants and minorities, often fuelled by populists, is also rising.
In this study group Elias Papaioannou will discuss his forthcoming paper which examines the literature on the rise of populism, including:  the increased support for populists in past decades; the role of secular economic factors related to cross-border trade; the role of the 2008-2009 Global Financial Crisis and subsequent austerity; identity politics, trust, and cultural backlash; the role of immigration and of the recent refugee crisis on the rise of populist and nativist values, including the gap between perceptions and reality regarding immigration; the role of the internet and social media in propagating simplistic and often fake news and the implications of the recent rise populism, including the possible role of populism on the unfolding Covid-19 crisis.

Photo of Ioana Petrescu at her deskIoana Petrescu is a Senior Fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Ash Center at the Harvard Kennedy School. Dr. Petrescu is a former Romanian Finance Minister. While minister, she pursued policies to cut tax evasion and tax avoidance, promote financial transparency, improve tax compliance, lower the tax burden for businesses and keep fiscal discipline. She also served in the government as an economic adviser to the prime minister and head of his delivery unit, where she monitored the implementation of the prime minister’s priorities in procurement, employment, energy and tax compliance. She is an international consultant on issues such as tax reform, central government delivery and local public services and runs the Center for Leadership and Innovation at the National School of Political Science and Public Administration in Bucharest. In the past, she also served as an expert for the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels. She was an Assistant Professor at University of Maryland and she holds a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard. She published in various academic journals and newspapers. Her 2017 book, Essays in Taxation and International Relations, analyzes issues such as flat taxation and government revenues. Ioana’s research project, Democracy and Delivery: The Devil is in the Details, explores good practices in the delivery of public goods and services in new democracies characterized by corruption and clientelism, low paid bureaucrats, poor institutions, frequent political turnover, unclear legislation, and little transparency. Her faculty sponsor is Jeffrey Frankel, James W. Harpel Professor of Capital Formation and Growth at Harvard Kennedy School. Email: ioanapetrescu@hks.harvard.edu