As president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick has a broad mandate and responsibility to countries around the globe, and when he took to the podium at George Washington University for a speech today, he had stern words for the U.S., Europe, Japan and China, and an expansive view of the “new normal.”
Retailers talked up the “new normal” quite a bit in late 2008 and 2009, when the financial crisis and recession had consumers running scared. The notion then was that people were changing how they spent their money and the result was that retailers and brands focused more on value, cut expenses and carried less inventory.
Zoellick, who was U.S. Trade Representative under President Bush from 2001 to 2005, said changes in the world over the past 60-some years have entire countries looking at a new normal in international relations.
Here, some highlights from the speech, in which Zoellick also pushed for equality for women.
• “Over the past 10 years, developing countries have grown nearly four times faster than developed, and that trajectory is expected to continue.”
• “If China reaches $16,000 of income per person by 2030 — up from today’s $4,000, a reasonable possibility — the effect on the world economy would be equivalent to adding 15 South Koreas.”
• “Something fundamental is going on, but the lesson is that we must democratize development, not retreat behind borders or cloak ourselves in the false warmth of old verities. The lesson is that we must change our old concepts and constricting labels, not our multilateral commitment.”
• “The new normal will be dynamic, not fixed — with more countries rising and shaping the multilateral system. Some states may falter, too. The rising economies will be joining new networks — of countries, international institutions, civil society and the private sector — in diverse combinations and changing patterns. These new networks are displacing the old hierarchies.”
• “We need China to be a responsible trading partner…. Europe, Japan and the United States must be responsible stakeholders, too. They have procrastinated for too long on making the difficult decisions, narrowing what choices are now left to a painful few. The global economy has entered a new danger zone with little running room as European countries resist difficult truths about the common responsibilities of a common currency….The United States is facing record peacetime deficits, with no agreed approach in sight for cutting the drivers of debt.”
• “The time for muddling through is over. If we do not get ahead of events; if we do not adapt to change; if we do not rise above short-term political tactics or recognize that with power comes responsibility, then we will drift in dangerous currents.”
• “Women make up 50 percent of the global population and 40 percent of the global workforce. Yet women only own 1 percent of the world’s wealth.…We will not release the full potential of half of the world’s population until globally we address the issue of equality.”