In Defense of World Government

Despite their many weaknesses, international institutions ultimately do far more good than harm. Globally minded citizens must now push their governments to strengthen and democratize such institutions, enabling them to advance policies that minimize risk and maximize opportunity for all.

WASHINGTON, DC – Unlike in the past, there probably will not be large protests at the upcoming Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, or at the subsequent World Trade Organization meeting of trade ministers in Bali. But that is not because these international institutions are perceived as effective and legitimate. It is because, compared to a decade ago, they are seen as too small and impotent in the face of larger market forces to bother about.

The 2008 global financial crisis and its aftermath have caused a loss of faith not only in markets, but also in the ability of democratic governments to ensure that the benefits of market-led growth are widely shared. On economic, financial, tax, trade, and climate issues, many people around the world are fearful or angry, believing  that a worldwide cabal of bankers, corporations, and G-20 elites uses insider deals to monopolize the benefits of globalization.

But few people – whether ordinary citizens or internationally oriented economists – recognize that our seemingly weak and ineffectual multilateral institutions are the world’s best hope for managing and democratizing the global market. Only these institutions are capable of preventing the elite capture and insider rents that are putting global prosperity at long-term risk.

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