In Daejeon, Korea earlier this week, a remarkable event took place that enabled the world to hear the voice of Asia and to learn how the region has been able to show such great resilience in the face of the worst global financial crisis since the 1930s. On July 12 and 13, more than 1,000 officials, economists, bankers, analysts, and media assembled for a conference titled Asia 21: Leading the Way Forward, hosted by the Korean government and the IMF. I personally learned a great deal about Asia’s growing stake in the global economy—and the global economy’s growing stake in Asia. As the world strives to leave the crisis behind, the economic center of gravity is shifting increasingly eastwards, and Asia’s role is more vital than ever before.
A couple of weeks ago, IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn attended the 2nd World Congress of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) in Vancouver. Reflecting on his meetings with the labor movement, he draws three main conclusions: (i) the IMF views its interaction with the labor movement as extremely valuable, and this had influenced our thinking; (ii) the labor movement has a major role to play in supporting continued economic cooperation across the world; and (iii) the IMF and labor movement share a number of important goals—standing against narrow domestic interests, nationalism, and war.