Former OMB Director Rivlin to Speak at NYU Wagner
Former UK Prime Minister on the Promise of Globalization
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown participated in an engaging public discussion cosponsored by NYU Wagner on Dec. 14, 2010, describing what he sees as hopeful economic possibilities presented by globalization. Brown spoke before an audience composed largely of students, and was interviewed on the stage at Vanderbilt Hall by Robert M. Shrum, the renowned U.S. political consultant and Senior Fellow at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
Introduced by NYU President John Sexton as the University's inaugural Distinguished Global Leader in Residence and "one of the great citizens of the world," Brown in turn hailed what he called NYU's "path-breaking" initiative as the first global network university.
During the discussion with Shrum and a question-and-answer session with the audience, the former prime minister focused on the prospects for growth in European, U.S., and African exports and employment that China's rapidly expanding economy may generate in the years ahead. In light of the 2008 financial meltdown, Brown also spoke of a pressing need for consistent rules and standards for responsible behavior by markets and governments worldwide. He also discussed his role in recognizing the necessity for his government and that of the U.S. to recapitalize tottering European banks as the meltdown was happening.
"We had capitalism without capital - the banks did not have enough capital," Brown said. Through his efforts and those of other world leaders, "we avoided what could have been a Great Depression." He stepped down as prime minister in May, 2010, after his Labour Party lost control of Parliament.
A current Member of Parliament, Brown was in New York to publicize his new book, "Beyond The Crash." Asked by an audience member about the WikiLeaks release of U.S. diplomatic cables, Brown said while American policy was predominantly shown to be honest, "there are certain parts that you'd question, certain parts nobody will like." He said he had suffered personal "embarrassments" from the release but then noted, "You've just got to accept that."
Afterward, the former prime minister signed copies of his new book, chatted with students about their programs of study, and posed for photographs. An article on the event published in the next day's New York Times described the reaction of one NYU Wagner student, who has lived in London. Patrizia Mancini commented: "I have to say that he seems like a different person. He's way more relaxed. As a politician, he would seem fake when he smiled, but now he seems so natural."
Forum: Paying Off the Debt: The Future of New York City Hospitals (Thurs, April 3 at NYU)
�Paying Off the Debt: The Future of New York City Hospitals� is the subject of this year�s Kovner Berman Event, sponsored annually at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
Founder of the world's #1 ranked microfinance institution argues for relentlessly focusing on efficiency
Shafiqual Chowdhury, the founder of ASA, the world's #1 ranked microfinance institution according to Forbes magazine, visited NYU Wagner on October 22, 2008, to share perspectives with students. In his remarks, Chowdhury argued for maintaining a relentless focus on efficiency: by being as efficient as possible in delivering services, costs can come down and profits go up. Only with profits, Chowdhury argued, is massive scale possible. ASA now provides financial services to 7 million low-income women in Bangladesh, and recently closed a $150 million fund to expand their model elsewhere in Asia.
"ASA's story challenges decades of thinking about strategies to achieve economic and social development," writes Jonathan Morduch, professor at NYU Wagner and Managing Director of the Financial Access Initiative, in the foreword to a new book on ASA (The Pledge: ASA, Peasant Politics, and Microfinance in the Development of Bangladesh by Stuart Rutherford, forthcoming in 2009 from Oxford University Press). By transforming from an NGO focused on grassroots political change into a financial institution, Morduch argues, ASA's history forces observers to "contemplate what has been gained and lost. What has been possible and what was perhaps utopian, ill-advised, and presumptuous."
The event was organized by the NYU Microfinance Initiative and supported by the Financial Access Initiative.