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Lee Jong-Wha
Says More…

This week, Project Syndicate catches up with Lee Jong-Wha, a former chief economist at the Asian Development Bank, a former senior economic adviser to the South Korean president, and a professor of economics at Korea University.

Project Syndicate: You’ve called for the G20 to lead a coordinated response – including fiscal, financial, and trade measures – to the COVID-19 crisis. What principles or policies should form the “the pillars of economic-policy coordination”? If the United States and China refuse to abandon their “utterly counter-productive blame game,” can the rest of the world step in to offset the damage?

Lee Jong-Wha: International coordination can play an important role in limiting a negative shock’s cross-border spillovers and restoring confidence. Hasty measures taken by individual countries are often ineffective and sometimes even counter-productive. By undermining trade and disrupting financial flows, they can exacerbate emerging and developing economies’ plight. One key focus of policy coordination should thus be to keep goods, services, and capital flowing smoothly.

In the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, I attended many G20-related meetings, including as a G20 Sherpa. I saw firsthand how effective the body was in facilitating cooperation – and how effective that cooperation was in shoring up the global economy. That is why I believe that the G20 should again serve as a platform for planning and implementing a coordinated crisis response.

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Jong-Wha recommends

We ask all our Say More contributors to tell our readers about a few books that have impressed them recently. Here are Jong-Wha's picks:

  •  Left Behind: Latin America and the False Promise of Populism

    Left Behind: Latin America and the False Promise of Populism

    Recently, I have been trying to understand the rise of populism around the world. This book explains what the Washington Consensus got wrong, and why the economic benefits of globalization were not broadly shared in Latin American countries. It explores the rise – and consequences – of populism in the region. Latin America’s political and economic experience in the late twentieth century is not only fascinating; it offers some useful lessons for Asia.

  • The Remains of the Day

    The Remains of the Day

    A good novel might be better than most economics books for summer vacation. Written by a Nobel Prize-winning British author and a recipient of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, this certainly fits into that category. It tells the story of Mr. Stevens, an aging butler, who has devoted his life to serving Lord Darlington, the host of unofficial secret meetings between Germany and the United Kingdom before World War II. In reading it, I was reminded of many figures and incidents involved in the run-up to the Korean War.

From the PS Archive

From 2020

Lee urges governments to enact sweeping structural reforms to avoid long-term economic stagnation. Read more.

From 2016

Lee thinks that, with the right policies and reforms, emerging economies can recapture their former dynamism. Read more.

Around the web

In their 2015 book, Education Matters: Global Schooling Gains from the 19th to the 21st Century, Lee and Barro present their data on educational attainment to show its effects on individuals and societies. Find the book.

In a 2013 panel discussion at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, Lee answers questions about Asia’s recovery and global imbalances. Watch the video.