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‘The Future Growth of the World Economy is Critical for Geopolitical Decisions’

The XVI April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development is scheduled to take place from April 7-10, 2015, but plans are already underway among the organizers and participants alike. Recently, Dale Jorgenson, Samuel W. Morris University Professor of Economics at Harvard University, spoke with the HSE news service about his long history of cooperation with HSE. Professor Jorgenson, an internationally recognized expert on information technology and economic growth, among other subjects, shared his expectations for this year’s conference.

— How did your cooperation with the HSE begin?

— I met with Academic Supervisor Evgeny Yasin at my Harvard office, shortly after the founding of the Higher School of Economics in 1992. Yasin described the School’s objectives in pretty much the same terms as the ‘History’ section of the HSE website.

I immediately came to share his enthusiasm about training a new generation of researchers and practitioners and generating and disseminating modern economic knowledge in Russia. Although the obstacles seemed to me to be very formidable, I agreed to cooperate by hosting visits by HSE faculty and students to Harvard and by visiting HSE in Moscow. Later, with help and advice from Yasin, I launched a joint research programme between Harvard and HSE with support from the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, then headed by the distinguished economist, Elvira Nabiullina. Harvard is also represented on the International Advisory Committee of HSE by my colleague, Eric Maskin, who is the Committee Chairman.

I will discuss the outlook for world economic growth at the April Conference, including the outlook for Russia and other members of the G8, as well as leading emerging economies such as China and India.

 — What's on your research plate with HSE colleagues, if anything?

— Our joint project is the Russian component of the World KLEMS Initiative. The purpose of this initiative is to promote and compare patterns of productivity and economic growth around the world. The initiative now involves almost 40 countries and spans five continents — Europe, North America, South America, Asia, and Australia. Ten countries produce internationally comparable data on productivity and economic growth as part of their systems of national accounts.

The Russian project is led by Ilya Voskoboynikov at HSE, who visited Harvard as a student and later as a faculty member. He will present his latest results at a session that will also include Marcel Timmer of Groningen University in The Netherlands, the supervisor of his doctoral research, and Kyoji Fukao of Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo, the leader of Asia KLEMS, a project that involves China, India, and Korea as well as Japan. We plan to discuss incorporation of the Russian data into the Russian national accounts with the leaders of Rosstat, the Russian statistical agency.

—Climate change, information technology, environmental behaviour — all of this is only part of your research interests. What would you consider the most burning issue in your area of expertise for international cooperation?

— The most burning issue on my personal agenda is reviving and maintaining economic growth in the aftermath of the world economic and financial crisis. I will discuss the outlook for world economic growth at the April Conference, including the outlook for Russia and other members of the G8, as well as leading emerging economies such as China and India. China has recently overtaken the United States as the world’s largest economy and India has overtaken Japan. As a consequence, the rapid growth of the world economy that preceded the crisis will continue well into the future. Each of the major economies faces major challenges, urbanization and environmental deterioration in the case of China and India, demographic decline in the case of Europe and the United States. Russia is now the world’s sixth largest economy and faces special challenges posed by the recent collapse of world oil prices.

HSE conferences have provided the ideal venue for frank and informative discussions and I am very grateful for the opportunity to participate.

I am confident that researchers at HSE and the practitioners they have trained will meet these challenges and look forward to hearing their views at the Conference.

— How could international experts influence and add value to geopolitical decision-making?

— The future growth the world economy is critical for geopolitical decisions, but there are many other dimensions as well, requiring other forms of expertise. Economists can collaborate with experts in other aspects of international relations to add value to international negotiations.

— Have you been to Moscow before? What plans do you have while not at the Conference?

— Thanks to close cooperation with HSE over many years, I have had many opportunities to visit Moscow. I am especially interested in the great art collections at Tretyakov Gallery and Pushkin Museum, as well as the historic buildings of the Kremlin. I had hoped to attend an opera performance at the Bolshoi Theater, which was undergoing renovation during my last visit to Moscow. Although these very impressive renovations are now complete, this will have to wait for my next visit.

Of course, there are many other fascinating places to visit in a great city like Moscow and many interesting people to meet. I look forward to renewing my acquaintance with many Russian colleagues at HSE and other leading economic research institutions. I also look forward to hearing from leading economic policymakers in Russia about the issues facing the Russian economy. HSE conferences have provided the ideal venue for frank and informative discussions and I am very grateful for the opportunity to participate.

Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for HSE News Service 

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