Gordon Brown Advocates Global Approach to Economic Policies in the Malcolm Wiener Lecture

September 24, 2010
by Lindsay Hodges Anderson

Speaking at Harvard Kennedy School Thursday, former UK prime minister Gordon Brown advocated a coordinated worldwide approach to economic policy. In his speech, Brown spoke about the problems caused by the recent recession and offered his two major suggestions to improve international finance: Global coordination of economic policies and a worldwide financial constitution that sets standards across the board.

“These are global problems that can only be dealt with by global coordinated solutions,” he said.

Brown cited a recent International Monetary Fund study that found a global coordinated policy across major economic players could create 30 million more jobs, pull up to 100 million people out of poverty and potentially create three trillion dollars of additional worldwide economic activity.

He also suggested the United States and Europe must consider the Asian markets as consumers, not just producers, in order to begin effective recovery from the recent recession and preparation for the future. Asian countries, Brown said, are now ready to consume as the Americans and Europeans have been doing.

“No longer can we make decisions about growth that don’t take into account the Asian consumer,” said Brown. “Trade is going to be the engine of growth in the future.”

Brown encouraged students to use their education and privilege to serve those in need and to believe that the impossible can happen.

“People may say… this is to dream something that is impossible,” said Brown referring to his suggestion for a global constitution. “But things that I thought impossible have actually happened. I could not have imagined that Nelson Mandela would go free from prison and Apartheid would be ended in the early 1990s… and we never thought that the Cold War would be brought to a sudden end in 1990 with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany, the unification of Europe.

“When you are students, this is the time when the decisions you make and the things you do can influence the rest of your life and, in particular, influence the public service you as individuals can do. I think if you as students think of what you’re doing now — your commitment to public service — [think of what it] can achieve in the future, then things that might seem impossible as they did in the 1970s and 1980s can actually be the things that do happen.”

Brown has been a Member of Parliament since 1983, and succeeded Tony Blair as prime minister in June 2007. He had previously served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Labour Government from 1997 to 2007. He is serving as a Visiting Fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics during the week of September 20.

Brown was delivering the 2010 Malcolm Wiener Lecture in International Political Economy at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum. The Malcolm Wiener Lecture Series at Harvard Kennedy School was established and endowed in 1988 through a gift from Malcolm H. Wiener.

Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown delivering the 2010 Malcolm Wiener Lecture in International Political Economy, Thursday (23 September). Photo credit, Tom Fitzsimmons.

"Trade is going to be the engine of growth in the future." — Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown

Photo credit, Tom Fitzsimmons.

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