The SNF DIALOGUES Discussed the Impacts of COVID-19 on the Global Economy and what Comes Next

ATHENS – The economic impacts of the pandemic, social disruption, and the pervasive uncertainty about the future were at the heart of SNF DIALOGUES discussion that took place on Wednesday, May 13 at dialogues.snf.org. This third live webcast of the series featured Emilios Avgouleas, International Banking Law and Finance Chair at the University of Edinburgh, and Costas Meghir, Professor of Economics at Yale University. SNF Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos also joined the webcast.

Meghir discussed the characteristics of the socioeconomic crisis evolving from the health crisis, stating that “this crisis has come at a very difficult time internationally. If it had happened a few years ago, we would have seen a type of international coordination that is currently lacking, as the international landscape of crisis management is in something of a state of anarchy today.” Avgouleas stressed that it is a “structural, systemic crisis whose causes stretch far back.”

Following a video on the SNF Global Relief Initiative for the COVID-19 Pandemic, SNF Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos also joined the discussion: “There are many things that none of us know. What we know for sure, however, is that the most vulnerable are the most at risk of all. There is no doubt that those who can, and have the financial means, must help. However, we can only move forward with effective cooperation between the public and private sectors. The right leadership, but also ethics, are needed. Philanthropy, no matter how ‘big’ it may be, cannot—and should not—play the leading role.” 

On the role of the state, Meghir commented: “We need a state that can coordinate the response to the crisis while it is happening, while, at the same time, looking at how it can build infrastructure so that people have equal opportunities, so that the private sector can operate, and so that there are basic social security benefits.” Avgouleas added that in order for the state to be able to achieve all this, “it will need to be restructured.” In terms of a solution to the crisis, he said that “borrowing is not a long-term solution. What is necessary is to attract public and private investment.”

Asked about what comes next and whether there are reasons for optimism, Meghir replied that “despite the fact that we are in a difficult political situation, improvement is possible through increasing the tax base and strengthening public services and international institutions.” Avgouleas asserted that “we have the opportunity to change the economic system. We need to go back to the basic principles of the morality of capitalism.” SNF Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos referred to the changes that must be made, but also to the opportunities that are always present in every crisis: “Borrowing a quote from John F. Kennedy, I would say, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.’ I would say that it is high time we all looked at ourselves in the mirror and saw what we can do, how we can contribute to society, at work, in our personal lives. How can we make a new beginning? And young people need to have an even more active role. You must look toward the future and actively participate in civil discourse.” 

The SNF DIALOGUES will reconvene on Wednesday, May 27 at 18:30 (GMT+3) for a discussion on “Art on Lockdown,” what comes next, and our collective responsibility to ensure that art and culture do not succumb to lockdown. 

Watch the DIALOGUES webcast on “The Challenge to the Economy” here: 



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