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A Berlin Consensus?

HONG KONG – A recent trip to Berlin brought back memories of an earlier visit in the summer of 1967, when I was a poor student who marveled at the Wall that would divide and devastate an entire society for another two decades. Berlin today is vibrant and rejuvenated, rebuilt by the German peoples' hard work and sacrifice to unify the country, and an apt setting for the conference of the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), which I was there to attend.

The conference’s theme was “Paradigm Lost,” with more than 300 economists, political scientists, systems analysts, and ecologists gathering to rethink economic and political theory for the challenges and uncertainty posed by growing inequality, rising unemployment, global financial disarray, and climate change. Almost everyone agreed that the old paradigm of neoclassical economics was broken, but there was no agreement on what can replace it.