Arguing in favor of a progressive agenda to combat the international crisis, presidents Dilma Rousseff and François Hollande opened “The Forum for Social Progress. Growth as a Solution for the Crisis” in Paris on December 11. The two presidents agreed that the solutions to the crisis involve a commitment to the creation of jobs, to social justice and to the environment. And further, they said that austerity measures, in addition to worsening the crisis, punish the population, and especially the workers.
Hollande said that it was necessary to reform the banks and review speculative activity, and suggested that “An Economic and Social Security Council along the lines of the United Nations Security Council” be created.
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President Dilma Rousseff said that the use of Orthodox measures has not resolved the problems of this crisis and that the emerging countries would not hesitate to use fiscal stimulus policies to confront it. “I agree with Hollande in the certainty that what is needed is more cooperation and much dialogue, but above all a commitment to growth and to employment.” The president pointed out that despite the slowdown in growth, over the last two years Brazil created 3.7 million jobs. Dilma Rousseff argued that what the euro needs is an effective bank union. “A true European Central Bank, with the power to defend the euro, issue securities and be a lender of last resort” is needed, she said. The president also said that both the maintenance of the euro and the resolution of the crisis in Europe are crucial for Brazil.
After the opening, there was a roundtable of intellectuals to discuss “Sustainable Growth: A Worldwide Challenge”. The discussions in this session concerned the need to return to growth using policies that attempt to reduce inequalities and create sustainable development from the social, economic and ecological point of view.
The discussion commenced with a statement by Nicholas Stern, professor of the London school of economics. In his talk, Stern stressed the need for the creation of new social indicators that would go beyond GDP to measure the actual welfare of the population and pointed out that times of crisis are also times for innovation and the creation of new alternatives.
Anthony Atkinson, a professor at Newfield College, Oxford, said that the economy should not be concerned only with efficiency but should also be concerned with the distribution of income, and a half who should pay for the investments that must be made.
Brazilian economist Luiz Gonzaga Belluzzo, professor at Unicamp, said that he could not understand how Europe could come to abandon the social welfare state and begin to adopt austerity programs that: “in addition to being inefficient, are cruel by nature.”
Smaïl Goumeziane, former foreign trade minister of Algeria, said market regulation was needed. Roger Guernerie, professor of the Collège de France, said that this is neither good nor bad but is something that either works or does not work. Rounding out the discussion, Damos Silvers, the director of strategy and special advisor to the American Federation of Labor And the Congress of Industrial Organizations, (AFL–CIO), spoke of the importance of listening to, and including, workers. Daniel Cohen, vice president of the École d’ Économie de Paris and the chairman of the Committee for Scientific Guidelines of the Jean-Jaurès Foundation, served as the moderator.
The discussions continued on Wednesday (December 12) with four roundtables and summaries by former President Lula and former Prime Minister of France Lionel Jospin.
The entire seminar is being transmitted live with links on the site of the Instituto Lula and the Fundação Jean Jaurès.