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Economics in an Age of Crisis: Trento Festival of Economics

Every year at the beginning of June, the historic Italian city of Trento opens its public spaces to the Festival of Economics, four days of panel discussions, conversations, lectures, and presentations about economics. The event is open to everyone, which means that citizens who do not usually have the opportunity to attend economic lectures can interact directly with some of the world's leading thinkers. In this Big Picture, Project Syndicate commentators in attendance share their insights about the festival's theme this year: "Globalization, Nationalism, and Representation."

Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, the authors of Why Nations Fail, focus on three conditions that have enabled a toxic form of populism to flourish. But Raghuram G. Rajan of the Chicago Booth School of Business points out that more liberally minded populists movements are often necessary for disrupting periods of political and economic sclerosis. And Paul Seabright considers the religious dimension, reflecting on the increasing corporatization of Christianity and Islam.

Meanwhile, Jean Pisani-Ferry of Sciences Po considers what the surge in voter turnout in the European Parliament election says about the state of European politics. Pier Carlo Padoan, a former Italian minister of economy and finances, weighs the challenges his country must confront to overcome an economic and political malaise that could spill over to the rest of Europe. And former IMF Chief Economist Olivier Blanchard points out, more broadly, that the eurozone needs to update its fiscal rules for the current era of persistently low interest rates.

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