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October 24, 2002 Get used to globalization, World Bank speaker says



by Brad Hunter

Globalization is here to stay, said former World Bank official Michel Bouchet during a Feb. 25 presentation at the Vanier Library.

“Short of a systemic crisis, this process cannot be stopped. It’s irreversible,” Bouchet said during his hour-long talk. “However, while there is no alternative to globalization, there are alternatives to the values driving globalization.”

Bouchet is currently the global finance chair at France’s CERAM Graduate School of Management and Technology. Before the presentation, he said his professional background has given him different perspectives on the many issues surrounding globalization. Besides his experience at the World Bank and in international banking, he has worked as a consultant helping nations with debt restructuring and sustainable development.

Instead of trying to stop globalization in its tracks, Bouchet said the key for those challenging the existing system is to fight to have values such as fairness and equity embedded in the organizations driving globalization, organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Trade Organization (WTO).

“I feel there is a new spirit emerging that believes the globalization system can be challenged by civil society and various citizens groups,” Bouchet said, “and challenging this system and its values is not abstract, not outside of our reach.”

Bouchet said he thinks bodies such as the IMF and WTO are becoming more receptive to input, adding he has seen changes in the way these organizations go about their business.

“I’ve seen signs of gradual openness,” he said while answering a question from the audience. “These organizations are becoming more transparent and more open to debate.” Not long ago, for example, Bouchet said details of IMF involvement around the world were difficult to get hold of, whereas now, one can visit the IMF Web site and get details on its activities in a particular country.

While Bouchet’s presentation concentrated on seven major problems associated with globalization, he also pointed out that globalization has benefited many by increasing incomes and standards of living.

“The problem, however, is the benefits of globalization have been spread unevenly, and this gap is widening,” Bouchet said. “This gap has been widening, not because the poor are getting
poorer, but rather because the rich are getting richer.”

Bouchet also discussed how globalization has weakened the role of the state in many economic policy and development issues, as national governments become subservient to institutions such as the IMF and WTO.

Bouchet’s presentation, called “The Seven Capital Sins of Globalization,” was co-sponsored by Loyola International College.

The college, which opened its doors on the Loyola campus in September 2001, allows students to pursue degrees in arts or sciences while taking special multidisciplinary courses that enable students to think about their areas of study from a global perspective.

The speakers series, now in its second year, “gives some balance to the domains of inquiry pursued on the Loyola campus,” said co-principal Professor William Bukowski. “The topics presented in the series are also intended to help one develop a critical eye towards globalization and pluralism in the world.”

The next presentation in the Loyola International College speakers series will take place next fall.