Need to redesign the system to create wealth for all, says Bangladeshi economist

Professor Muhammad Yunus
Updated 14 March 2018
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Need to redesign the system to create wealth for all, says Bangladeshi economist

DUBAI: The microcredit model has proved that millions of women can become entrepreneurs without any training or education, according to Nobel laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus.
He also believes that the financial system needs to be redesigned to create a world that does not just benefit the rich.

Speaking to Arab News during his visit to Dubai recently, Professor Yunus said that the model of microcredit was to lend small amounts of money, about $20-$30, often to illiterate women in villages.

“These are women who never crossed the boundaries of their village. Yet they dare to take a $30 loan and become an entrepreneur,” Professor Yunus said.

The Bangladeshi economist hopes that young people will change the world. “They are not contaminated by the world’s way of doing things. They can start afresh as they have technology in their hands and can mold things their own way,” Professor Yunus said.

Professor Yunus talked about his most recent book, “A World of Three Zeroes,” which highlights the need for zero poverty, zero unemployment and zero net carbon emissions.

“The sum and substance of it is that the world is going in a wrong direction. The speed of that direction and its negative impact is getting higher and higher so we are sitting on a ticking bomb, which can explode at any time,” he said.

He said that a large chunk of the world's wealth was becoming concentrated in the hands of a few. “Today 1 percent of the world population owns 99 percent of the wealth, and tomorrow it will be worse,” he said.

This will lead to massive discontent and political and social disasters, he said. “I call it a huge mushroom of wealth which continues to grow but the ownership of the mushroom is by fewer and fewer people.”

Professor Yunus said that he sees selfless business as social business, which essentially means a non-dividend company to solve human problems.

“We created a lot of those businesses. Microcredit is one. We didn’t create it to make money for us but to solve the problems of other people. We needed to create counter banking, which is the microcredit that we did via Grameen Bank,” he said.

According to him, the bigger challenge is that the system is working against the poor. “So no matter what you do, you only do marginally better. You are not participating in filling the huge gap where wealth concentration has taken place,” he said.

“In order to do that, you have to redesign the machine itself. Microcredit is one piece of that machine, and not the whole machine. The entire machine has to be redesigned in a way in which wealth goes in both directions,” he said.

He said that the existing system had led to a perpetual model in which the condition of the poor may improve but at the same time the condition of the wealthy will zoom sky-high.


US unveils new veto threat against WTO rulings

Updated 23 June 2018
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US unveils new veto threat against WTO rulings

  • US tells WTO appeals rulings in trade disputes could be vetoed if they took longer than the allowed 90 days
  • Trump, who has railed against the WTO judges in the past, threatens to levy a 20 percent import tax on European Union cars

GENEVA: The United States ramped up its challenge to the global trading system on Friday, telling the World Trade Organization that appeals rulings in trade disputes could be vetoed if they took longer than the allowed 90 days.
The statement by US Ambassador Dennis Shea threatened to erode a key element of trade enforcement at the 23-year-old WTO: binding dispute settlement, which is widely seen as a major bulwark against protectionism.
It came as US President Donald Trump, who has railed against the WTO judges in the past, threatened to levy a 20 percent import tax on European Union cars, the latest in an unprecedented campaign of threats and tariffs to punish US trading partners.
Shea told the WTO’s dispute settlement body that rulings by the WTO’s Appellate Body, effectively the supreme court of world trade, were invalid if they took too long. Rulings would no longer be governed by “reverse consensus,” whereby they are blocked only if all WTO members oppose them.
“The consequence of the Appellate Body choosing to breach (WTO dispute) rules and issue a report after the 90-day deadline would be that this report no longer qualifies as an Appellate Body report for purposes of the exceptional negative consensus adoption procedure,” Shea said, according to a copy of his remarks provided to Reuters.
An official who attended the meeting said other WTO members agreed that the Appellate Body should stick to the rules, but none supported Shea’s view that late rulings could be vetoed, and many expressed concern about his remarks.
Rulings are routinely late because, the WTO says, disputes are abundant and complex. Things have slowed further because Trump is blocking new judicial appointments, increasing the remaining judges’ already bulging workload.
At Friday’s meeting the United States maintained its opposition to the appointment of judges, effectively signalling a veto of one judge hoping for reappointment to the seven-seat bench in September.
Without him, the Appellate Body will only have three judges, the minimum required for every dispute, putting the system at severe risk of breakdown if any of the three judges cannot work on a case for legal or other reasons.
“Left unaddressed, these challenges can cripple, paralyze, or even extinguish the system,” chief judge Ujal Singh Bhatia said.
Sixty-six WTO member states are backing a petition that asks the United States to allow appointments to go ahead. On Friday, US ally Japan endorsed the petition for the first time, meaning that all the major users of the dispute system were united in opposition to Trump.