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Debates of century to be held at 13th WKF
WKF2012 | 2012.09.17 | File : -

(Clockwise from top) Daron Acemoglu,
Dani Rodrik, Todd Buchholz, Shawn Achor

The 13th World Knowledge Forum (WKF) provides a rare opportunity indeed where you will watch intense face-to-face debates between the world’s renowned intellectuals. These discussions will be must-see sessions for any enthusiastic observers who need a great inspiration. The dimensions covered by four sessions include: ‘Debate: Why Nations Fail’, ‘Debate on Happiness: Equation of Work, Success, and Happiness’, ‘Debate: China Grows on?’ and ‘Next Emerging’. No doubt, this year’s WKF has invited the world’s luminous figures who will inspire you with unique perspectives on diverse intriguing issues in those dynamic face-to-face discussions.

In a session held under the title of ‘Debate: Why Nations Fail’, scheduled from 9:00 - 10:20 at Vista Hall on October 10th, the world’s most respected economists Daron Acemoglu and Dani Rodrik will be engaged in an in-depth one-on-one discussion over how to build a nation’s institution over next five years and possibly more than 100 years in the future.

Who would be better in running a country, Steve Jobs or Bill Gates? At this moment, elections are taking place in the advanced economies around the world to find a new leader. Due to this unpredictable and prolonged economic crisis, there is a controversial dispute on who should be chosen to lead the country. Some claim that Jobs’ way of efficient elitism is the most superior. They emphasize that a nation’s industrial policy should be designed and managed by its government. On the contrary, others propose that a nation should be run systematically as Bill Gates does rather than through elitism. They believe that government-led industrial reforms and policies are not only pointless but also dangerous that they may ruin a nation’s future. Here, this year’s WKF has invited two renowned intellectuals Daron Acemoglu and Dani Rodrik who propose two contrasting perspectives on this contentious issue

MIT Professor Daron Acemoglu supports the latter’s point of view in his noted book ‘Why Nations Fail,’ claiming that a nation could succeed by abolition of institution that reflects the interests of elites trying to maintain their vested rights. He points out that China’s economic growth cannot be sustained since a government-driven industrial policy could never promote a nation’s long-term growth. However, Professor Dani Rodrik, who is considered to be the most theoretically-sophisticated institutional economist, proposes a contrasting view. He asserts that the most important factor that dictates a nation’s success is a rapid structural change. He defines a succeeding nation as a one that quickly liquidates the declining industry and actively supports newly emerging industry. From that perspective, he does not criticize the Chinese growth model. He also says an industrial policy reorganized by a nation is as important as a monetary policy adjusted by a central bank to control money supply. He emphasizes the role of effective institution of a nation.

“If you work harder, you will be more successful, and then you will be happy.” Would this be true? Hopefully, the WKF will guide you into your own quotation of happiness. In a session to be held under the theme of ‘Debate on Happiness: Equation of Work, Success, and Happiness’, you will meet the two best-selling authors, Todd Buchholz and Shawn Achor, who will enthusiastically make their case on happiness and help you find the true meaning of happiness. This session will begin from 17:00 - 18:20 at Vista Hall on October 10th. Todd Buchholz, known for his publication ‘Rush’ and Shawn Achor, an equally illustrious author, who wrote ‘The Happiness Advantage’ are presenting totally different theories. Shawn Achor says “Success doesn’t lead to happiness. Happiness makes you to succeed.” And he asserts happy people excel on their works. According to his research, around 75 percent of success can be explained by people’s optimism. Meanwhile, Todd Buchholtz, author of ‘Rush,’ says “Success doesn’t make you happy. Being involved in the competition and new challenge does.” When one quits his job, he may suffer from depression. One or two days would be fine, but more than a week may make a person lethargic. And he criticizes the hatred of competition. This session will definitely give you a precious opportunity to direct you to the road to happiness.

A heated debate over whether state capitalism could serve as a viable alternative to standard liberal capitalism will be staged in a session titled ‘Debate: China Grows on?’ from 10:40 to 12:00 on Wednesday, October 10th at Vista Hall. The panelists in the session include Xu Dingbo, Associate Dean of China Europe International Business School, Lin Shunjie, Deputy Secretary General at China Chamber of International Commerce (CCOIC), Fraser Howie, the co-author of ‘Red Capitalism’, and Richard Duncan, the author of ‘Dollar Crisis.’ In this session, facts and fiction of China’s pursuit of state capitalism will be discussed. Chinese panelists Xu Dingbo and Lin Shunjie will team up in the debate to support the Chinese-model state capitalism, and Richard Duncan and Fraser Howie will be criticizing China’s state capitalist policies.

The current crisis in standard capitalism has coincided with the rise of a strong alternative of “State Capitalism”, where government implement powers and supports to limited national companies and enlist them into the global market, making them compete with global companies. Proponents of state capitalism make examples of successful countries such as China. China has grown at almost 10% annually for the past 30 years, thanks to the “national giants” who have benefited by less domestic competition and full financial support from national banks. However, there are concerns about the model as it may induce corruption with high probability, and even worse, the inefficiency of the overall economy. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), the model that China used for finance - when the main role of finance is to distribute resources and risks most efficiently - is also showing its limitations as the return on investments in the Chinese business is regressing toward the mean. It is worth discussing whether the current Chinese finance can work as good distributor of resources and risks at a time when the Chinese banking system is catching up developed ones at a fast clip.

Fraser Howie criticized China’s state capitalist policies in his book ‘Red Capitalism’, asserting that China`s financial system is not a model for the west and, indeed, is not a sustainable arrangement for China itself as it seeks increasingly to assert its influence internationally. Howie’s debate partner Richard Duncan is a China expert. Duncan arrived in Hong Kong in 1986 to take a job as an equity analyst and later worked as a financial sector specialist for the World Bank in Washington, DC and as a consultant for the International Monetary Fund in Thailand during the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Xu Dingbo has received several teaching awards, including the CEIBS Teaching Excellence Award in 2004 and 2005, the prestigious CEIBS Medal for Teaching Excellence in 2009. He is a financial management advisor to some local governments and several top Chinese and multinational corporations. He has designed and delivered company-specific programs for a number of companies. Lin Shunjie, as Deputy Secretary General at the CCOIC, focuses the strength of his organization on supporting the globalization of Chinese companies. He also served as Director of International Cooperation at the Media and Press Center, China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), Deputy Secretary General of the Secretariat of China-Mexico Bilateral Business Council and Deputy Secretary General of China-Arab Joint Chamber of Commerce in 2006.

Ruchir Sharma, Managing Director at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, and Michael Evans, Vice Chairman and Global Head of Growth Markets of Goldman Sachs Group, will be having a debate on the next emerging markets at a session called “Next Emerging” from 15:30 to 17:10 on Tuesday, October 9th at Vista Hall.

As the growth rate of the world economy falters, it seems that the true capabilities of emerging countries are unveiled, which led the world economy for few years. Some claims that the era of BRICS (China, Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa) has gone and in its instead, now comes the era of MIST, which represents Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, and Turkey. Emerging countries where it deployed cheap workforce and low product costs are having hard times. The advantage of new comers is fading, and the emerging markets should fiercely compete with the advanced economies. Now is the era that we can clearly distinguish nations with rising and falling. Then how should we analyze this trend? World leading representatives from Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are going to discuss on this issue.

Ruchir Sharma, Managing Director at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, is also the author of the book ‘Breakout Nations,’ in which he maintained that we should abandon the habit of extrapolating from the recent past and lumping wildly diverse countries together to identify the economic stars of the future. Michael Evans has been the global head of Growth Markets since January 2011 and a Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs since February 2008. Evans serves as a trustee of the Asia Society and of the Bendheim Center for Finance at Princeton University.

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