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Kemal Derviş

Kemal Derviş

Kemal Derviş, former Minister of Economic Affairs of Turkey and former Administrator for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), is a vice president of the Brookings Institution.

Articles by Kemal Derviş

The Decarbonization Paradox

18 days ago

Although faster technological progress can ease some of the social and political barriers to climate action, such innovation alone will not get the world all the way to net zero. To achieve that, drastic shifts in behavior and massive policy interventions will be required, including an unprecedented degree of international cooperation.

WASHINGTON, DC – Discussions about climate change contain two apparently contradictory messages. One is that it is almost impossible to decarbonize fully and fast enough to limit global warming this century to well below two degrees Celsius relative to pre-industrial levels. The other message is that, given what is at stake, such rapid decarbonization is inevitable.

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The Post-Trump Reconstruction of America and the World

January 18, 2021

For decades, the United States has lacked a fully credible and feasible overall strategy for backing liberal democracy. To restore the right kind of US global leadership, President-elect Joe Biden’s administration should develop one.

WASHINGTON, DC – The inauguration of US President-elect Joe Biden on January 20 will usher in momentous change for the better for the United States. It may also signal a unique opportunity to bolster liberal democracy around the world.

Merkel Minus Angela

Shan Yuqi/Xinhua via Getty Images

Saving America’s Public Pensions

PS OnPoint

Patrick Pleul/picture alliance

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How Europe Can Work with Biden

November 12, 2020

Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential election creates the possibility of much greater international cooperation in confronting global threats. Europe should aim to strengthen the hand of those in America who want to help build a new, open, and more equitable international order.

WASHINGTON, DC – After several anxiety-filled rollercoaster days following the recent US presidential election, it is now all but certain that Joe Biden will become America’s next president on January 20, 2021. Whether Democrats also take control of the Senate depends on the outcome of two crucial run-off votes in Georgia on January 5. The more erratic and outrageous President Donald Trump’s behavior is in the coming weeks, the greater

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Multilateralism for the Masses

September 7, 2020

All over the world, nationalist populists have successfully stoked anti-globalist sentiment among the people who would benefit the most from international cooperation. Countering this trend will require internationalists to clarify what global solidarity really means, beginning at the upcoming UN General Assembly.

WASHINGTON, DC – As the United Nations General Assembly gathers in New York City for its 75th session – which will open with a high-level meeting focused on “reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism” – the United States is engulfed in perhaps the most contentious presidential election in recent memory. The outcome will have far-reaching implications for the future of international

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Hope for a New “UN Moment”

August 10, 2020

When the United Nations celebrates its 75th anniversary this September, the US will still be misgoverned by a transactional president who has no interest in global rules. But if that rules out a rebirth of global multilateralism this fall, things could look very different next spring.

WASHINGTON, DC – On September 21, 2020, the United Nations will mark its 75th anniversary with a negotiated declaration to be endorsed at a high-level meeting the same month. The UN’s member countries should turn the event into a rechristening.

How to Prevent the Looming Sovereign-Debt Crisis

Teradat Santivivut/Getty Images


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Trust Funds for All

July 9, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many flaws in advanced economies, not least the fact that inequality can be deadly. The case for giving all citizens a capital endowment – reflecting both their inalienable dignity and society’s return on its public investments – has never been stronger.

WASHINGTON, DC – It is far from certain whether the post-pandemic recovery will be a lasting one that results in more sustainable and equitable economies. The temptation to try to return to the recent past is strong, and so are the vested interests favoring such a course.

Understanding the Pandemic Stock Market

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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Less Globalization, More Multilateralism

June 10, 2020

While some degree of deglobalization may be desirable today, this process also carries grave risks, from skyrocketing production costs to geopolitical conflict. The only way to mitigate those risks is through enhanced multilateral cooperation.

WASHINGTON, DC – With the COVID-19 catastrophe having laid bare the vulnerabilities inherent in a hyper-connected, just-in-time global economy, a retreat from globalization increasingly seems inevitable. To some extent, this may be desirable. But achieving positive outcomes will depend on deep, inclusive, and effective multilateralism.

A Sustainable Recovery Must Be More Than Green

PS OnPoint


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The Carbon-Tax Opportunity

May 6, 2020

The pandemic-related collapse in oil prices will likely make renewable energy less competitive, just at a time when the world should be engineering a climate-friendly recovery. In fact, policymakers have an excellent opportunity to advance the transition to a zero-carbon economy.

WASHINGTON, DC – The COVID-19 pandemic has brought economic and social activity around the world to a near standstill. As a result, carbon dioxide emissions have declined sharply, and the skies above some large cities are clean and clear for the first time in decades.

How Will the Great Cessation End?

PS OnPoint

Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

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The Carbon-Tax Opportunity

May 6, 2020

The pandemic-related collapse in oil prices will likely make renewable energy less competitive, just at a time when the world should be engineering a climate-friendly recovery. In fact, policymakers have an excellent opportunity to advance the transition to a zero-carbon economy.

WASHINGTON, DC – The COVID-19 pandemic has brought economic and social activity around the world to a near standstill. As a result, carbon dioxide emissions have declined sharply, and the skies above some large cities are clean and clear for the first time in decades.

How Will the Great Cessation End?

PS OnPoint

Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

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PS Say More: Kemal Derviş

April 7, 2020

Project Syndicate: “Precisely at a time when rules-based multilateralism is in retreat,” you and Sebastián Strauss recently wrote, “perhaps the fear and losses arising from COVID-19 will encourage efforts to bring about a better model of globalization.” But how likely is that? As you acknowledge in your most recent PS commentary, “Solidarity across borders will be the most difficult challenge posed by the pandemic catastrophe.” Could the COVID-19 pandemic thus result in uncontrolled deglobalization? How might such an outcome be avoided, or at least mitigated?Kemal Derviş: As Strauss and I acknowledge, it could go either way. Fears about global interdependence are set to deepen, as will the instinct to protect one’s own country by reducing dependence on

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The COVID-19 Solidarity Test

March 31, 2020

If the COVID-19 crisis has taught us one thing, it is that the relentless focus on hyper-efficiency and short-term gains of recent decades has given rise to a highly fragile global system. The time has come to build a more resilient world order, based on economic, generational, and international solidarity.

WASHINGTON, DC – The COVID-19 crisis represents an unprecedented test of human solidarity. Will the wealthy – or, indeed, all those with stable incomes or savings cushions – embrace measures to support the poor and economically insecure? Will the young, among whom the mortality rate is lower, make sacrifices to protect the old? And will people in rich countries accept resource transfers to poor countries?

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What COVID-19 Means for International Cooperation

March 6, 2020

A clear parallel between the growing COVID-19 pandemic and climate change is emerging. In particular, both phenomena highlight the need for much closer forward-looking international cooperation to reduce and manage global threats.

WASHINGTON, DC – Throughout history, crisis and human progress have often gone hand in hand. While the growing COVID-19 pandemic could strengthen nationalism and isolationism and accelerate the retreat from globalization, the outbreak also could spur a new wave of international cooperation of the sort that emerged after World War II.
Plagued by Trumpism

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

COVID-19 Trumps

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Getting Carbon Border Taxes Right

February 11, 2020

Carbon border taxes could help the world move more efficiently toward sustainability. But if such taxes are to be part of a consensual multilateral approach, rather than a new source of conflict, policymakers will have to tackle distributional issues upfront as part of a strategic design, not as an afterthought.

WASHINGTON, DC – A time-honored but often problematic practice in basic welfare economics is to separate efficiency considerations from distributional concerns. In an economy with given endowments and a given distribution of them, the argument goes, there exists a set of prices that will guide competitive behavior toward an efficient allocation of resources. If the result is not desirable on equity grounds, then

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When Climate Activism and Nationalism Collide

January 6, 2020

Given the importance of the fight against global warming, the conflict between nationalist narratives and green internationalism could become the dominant political divide of the 2020s. If so, then the climate debate may import global issues into national politics like never before.

WASHINGTON, DC – There is an overwhelming consensus among scientists that this decade will be the last window for humanity to change the current global trajectory of carbon dioxide emissions so that the world can get close to zero net emissions by around 2050, and thus avoid potentially catastrophic climate risks. But although the massive technological and economic changes required to achieve this goal are well understood, their political

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Cronies Everywhere

December 13, 2019

From the Middle East and Russia to China and many other countries around the world, crony capitalism is alive and well. But what does this well-worn term actually mean in practice, and can it tell us anything about the likely fate of Russian kleptocracy, Chinese "state capitalism," or Middle Eastern rentier states?

Ishac Diwan, Adeel Malik, and Izak Atiyas (eds.), Crony Capitalism in the Middle East: Business and Politics from Liberalization to the Arab Spring, Oxford University Press, 2019.Anders Åslund, Russia’s Crony Capitalism: The Path From Market Economy to Kleptocracy, Oxford University Press, 2019.Minxin Pei, China’s Crony Capitalism: The Dynamics of Regime Decay, Harvard University Press, 2017.WASHINGTON, DC

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Measuring Growth Democratically

December 6, 2019

For decades, gross domestic product has captured the attention of economists and policymakers around the world, offering a single, simple proxy for economic growth. Yet for all of its convenience, it is a poor proxy for human progress, and could easily be improved with a complementary metric that weighs citizens more equally.

WASHINGTON, DC – Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, two of this year’s recipients of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, are the latest among leading economists to remind us that gross domestic product is an imperfect measure of human welfare. The Human Development Index, published by the United Nations Development Programme, aggregates indicators of life expectancy, education, and

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The Case for International Civil Servants

November 1, 2019

Cooperation among nation-states is still the most important element of global governance. But organizations and civil servants that serve the world as a whole are an indispensable source of support for necessary collective action to address major opportunities and threats.

WASHINGTON, DC – The notion of an “international” civil service goes back a century, to the establishment of the League of Nations after World War I. Whereas civil servants had until then always served their countries or empires, the League’s small secretariat would facilitate cooperation among member states. The founding of the United Nations following World War II gave a new and much stronger impetus to the idea and practice of an international

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Argentina Must Not Waste Its Crisis

October 3, 2019

To explain Argentina’s chronic instability and episodic illiquidity, one must look beyond idiosyncratic leaders, temporary external shocks, and specific policy mistakes. The answer lies in the country’s political system, which has failed to cement institutions that can support long-term development.

WASHINGTON, DC – If you leave Argentina and come back 20 days later, according to a tragically apt joke, you’ll find everything is different, but if you come back after 20 years, you’ll find that everything is the same. Will the country’s likely next president, Alberto Fernández, finally manage to erase that punch line?
The Impeachment Trap

Melina Mara/The Washington Post via

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Preventing Cold War II

September 11, 2019

At its founding in the aftermath of World War II, the United Nations was conceived above all as the guardian of a rules-based multilateral order that would ensure peace. Today, the UN must play a more active guardianship role – and help prevent another costly and potentially catastrophic superpower conflict.

WASHINGTON, DC – When world leaders gather in New York later this month for the annual United Nations General Assembly meetings, they will have much to discuss besides climate change and sustainable development. In particular, the escalating superpower rivalry between the United States and China poses a growing risk to the world. The UN must therefore make helping to avoid another Cold War central to its mission

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The Real Obstacle to Climate Action

August 20, 2019

Distributional issues – not aggregate costs – are the real obstacle to the ambitious policies needed to avert possibly catastrophic climate change. Progressives everywhere must therefore unite in support of a rapid green transition that is feasible and desirable for all.

WASHINGTON, DC – Climate change is probably the biggest threat facing humanity today. According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world must cut its carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050 in order to prevent global warming of 1.5°C, or likely more, above pre-industrial levels in this century. The challenge calls for drastic immediate action, because the infrastructure investments the world makes

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Which Way Now for the EU?

July 25, 2019

Calls for Europe to strengthen its “strategic sovereignty” often imply that a more integrated European Union should become the third pillar of a “G3” world alongside the United States and China. But if the EU tries to become a pure power player in a transactional game of realpolitik, Europe’s soft power will weaken.

WASHINGTON, DC – With the main European Union institutions preparing for a change of leadership this autumn, now is a good time to reflect on the EU’s priorities for the coming years.
Is Politics Getting to the Fed?

Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Philanthropy vs. Democracy


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How to Renew the Social Contract

June 24, 2019

Democratic governments face two main challenges in trying to revive their post-World War II social contracts. They must ensure a strong and efficient social safety net for the digital age, while taking concrete steps toward providing global public goods such as tackling climate change.

WASHINGTON, DC – The success of Western-style democracy after World War II was based on national social contracts: citizens paid taxes, and the state provided the conditions for steady economic progress, along with secure jobs, a social safety net, and redistributive policies that narrowed the income gap between owners and workers. Although the degree of redistribution and the availability of secure jobs varied

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Closing the Global Governance Gap

May 29, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – Technological waves have always driven social and political change and progress, along with economic growth. Gutenberg’s printing press democratized communications, which had long been monopolized by church scribes. The Ottoman Empire’s long ban on printing presses may have been a key reason for its eventual decline. Later on, the steam engine, and then railways, revolutionized production, transport, and trade, and electricity changed almost all aspects of our lives.
Game of EU Thrones

The Economy We Need

PS OnPoint

Keith Bishop/Getty Images

Capitalism’s Great Reckoning

PS OnPoint

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More or Less Europe?

May 9, 2019

The upcoming elections will entrench the growing divide between those who want less Europe and those who want more. And the fragmented parliament that is likely to emerge will cast further uncertainty on the European Union’s future direction.

WASHINGTON, DC – On May 23-26, voters across the European Union will go to the polls to elect members of the European Parliament. Much will be at stake. “Never, since World War II, has Europe been as essential,” French President Emmanuel Macron wrote recently, “yet never has Europe been in so much danger.”
The Economy We Need

Keith Bishop/Getty Images

Brexit Fever is Breaking

Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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The Center Left and Globalization

December 27, 2018

After promising to reform both France and the European Union, President Emmanuel Macron is now struggling to reclaim the public’s confidence and prove that he is not the "President of the Rich." By pursuing a business-friendly reform agenda, Macron has fallen into a trap that center-left reformers everywhere seem incapable of avoiding.

WASHINGTON, DC – Popular uprisings across France are threatening to shatter the hope that so many had placed in French President Emmanuel Macron after his election in May 2017. With his party, La République En Marche !, having secured an absolute parliamentary majority, Macron promised to pursue difficult reforms not just in France, but also within the European Union. But now he is facing the

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Nationalists of the World, Unite?

November 22, 2018

Though internationalism has been the preserve of the left at least since the French Revolution, it has now assumed a paradoxical role in modern right-wing populist and nationalist movements. And yet, because it is defined solely by what it opposes, nationalist internationalism can only ever be a destructive force.

WASHINGTON, DC – Steve Bannon’s extensive travels in Europe this year have not drawn as much attention as they should have, given that he is the key theoretician of US President Donald Trump’s signature brand of nationalism. Bannon now wants to build a federation of nationalist parties in Europe. And yet, one wonders how an “America First” ideologue can pursue his political project anywhere other than in America. By

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What’s Behind Trump’s Trade War?

October 8, 2018

Donald Trump’s justifications for his aggressive trade policy – that it will reduce the US current-account deficit and save vulnerable American industries – do not withstand scrutiny. At the heart of Trump’s trade war is an impulse to free American power from the supposed shackles of multilateralism.

WASHINGTON, DC – Since World War II’s end, trade has grown 50% faster than global GDP, owing largely to successive rounds of liberalization under the auspices of the World Trade Organization (previously the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT). But now, US President Donald Trump’s latest dose of import tariffs could push the world into a full-blown trade war, undoing much of that progress.


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A Fragmented Multilateralism?

September 11, 2018

With multilateral frameworks under attack, a new system in which country groupings – based on, say, geography or worldview – would formulate their own sets of rules may seem like a viable alternative. But the trend toward increasingly close economic and even social interdependence demands global rules and standards.

WASHINGTON, DC – Amid ongoing attacks by US President Donald Trump, the battle for the future of multilateralism has commenced. Previous demands for pragmatic reforms have escalated into pressure for the wholesale transformation – or even total destruction – of the global framework of multilateral institutions. Trump seems to prefer a “system” in which bilateral deals replace the multilateral rules-based order. As the US is

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Global Politics for a Globalized Economy

August 7, 2018

Global markets are now more important than national markets for small and medium-size countries, and approaching that status for large economies. The emergence of such a truly global capitalism means that more and more economic activity will no longer be embedded in the politics or regulatory systems of various nation-states.

WASHINGTON, DC – From the end of World War II to the mid-2010s, economic globalization progressed relentlessly through expanded trade, proliferating capital flows, faster (and cheaper) communication, and, to a lesser extent, human migration. Yet, even as these linkages have deepened and multiplied, the global economy has remained fundamentally a collection of national economies, each embedded in

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Can Multilateralism Survive?

July 20, 2018

In today’s deeply interconnected world, we need rules and institutions to govern markets and economic activity more than ever. Yet multilateralism is under increasing strain, and the lack of a clear and consistent means for assessing changing global power dynamics is not helping.

WASHINGTON, DC – It is often said that the unipolar world order, dominated by the United States, that emerged at the end of the Cold War has lately shifted to a “multipolar” arrangement, owing to the growing geopolitical “weight” of countries such as China, as well as many emerging economies. But the actual metrics by which we weigh global powers are typically discussed in only vague terms, if at all.

Andia/UIG via Getty Images

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