Augusto Lopez-Claros, “On the Elimination of the Extremes of Wealth and Poverty: a Bahá’í Perspective”

Sunday, December 02, 2018, 2 p.m. Eastern (11 a.m. Pacific, 8 p.m. Western European time)

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During his travels in Europe and America in 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá referred frequently to the problem of income inequality and on several occasions called for the emergence of a new social and economic order that would address the extremes of wealth and poverty. He also put forward several specific proposals that would help to mitigate what he regarded as a serious social and economic crisis. We will review some of the problems created by widening income disparities, both for policymakers and, more generally, for social cohesion and sustainable economic development. The presentation, building on the ideas of the Master, will also explore several ways in which inequality could be mitigated over the medium term, all of them within the grasp of governments everywhere, particularly in the developing world, where inequality has especially undesirable consequences. None of these possible remedies to the problem of inequality are getting the attention they deserve, all of them would make a great difference.


Augusto Lopez-ClarosFor the 2018 academic year Augusto Lopez-Claros is on leave from the World Bank as a Senior Fellow at the Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Between 2011 and 2017 he was the Director of the World Bank’s Global Indicators Group, the department responsible for the Bank’s Doing Business report and other international benchmarking studies. Previously he was Chief Economist and Director of the Global Competitiveness Program at the World Economic Forum in Geneva, where he was also the Editor of the Global Competitiveness Report, the Forum’s flagship publication, as well as a number of regional economic reports. Before joining the Forum he worked for several years in the financial sector in London, with a special focus on emerging markets. He was the International Monetary Fund’s Resident Representative in the Russian Federation during the 1990s.

Before joining the IMF, Lopez-Claros was a Professor of Economics at the University of Chile in Santiago. He was educated in England and the United States, receiving a diploma in Mathematical Statistics from Cambridge University and a PhD in Economics from Duke University. He is a much-sought-after international speaker, having lectured in the last several years at some of the world’s leading universities and think tanks. In 2007 he was a coeditor of The International Monetary System, the IMF, and the G-20: A Great Transformation in the Making? and The Humanitarian Response Index: Measuring Commitment to Best Practice, both published by Palgrave. He was the editor of The Innovation for Development Report 2009–2010: Strengthening Innovation for the Prosperity of Nations, published by Palgrave in November 2009. More recent publications include: “Removing Impediments to Sustainable Economic Development: The Case of Corruption” (2015), “Fiscal Challenges After the Global Financial Crisis: A Survey of Key Issues” (2014) and “The Moral Dimension of the Fight Against Corruption” (2017) (augustolopezclaros.com). In May of 2018 Sweden’s Global Challenges Foundation awarded Lopez-Claros the New Shape Prize for his work (with Arthur Dahl and Maja Groff) “Global Governance and the Emergence of Global Institutions for the 21st Century.”

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