Gordon Brown’s Quest for Global Society

John Micklethwait is Editor-in-Chief of The Economist. Before that he edited the US section of the newspaper (1999 - 2006) and ran the New York Bureau for two years, having edited the Business Section of the newspaper for the previous four years. His other roles have included setting up The Economist's office in Los Angeles, where he worked from 1990 - 1993 and being Media Correspondent. He has covered business and politics from the United States, Latin America, Continental Europe, Southern Africa and most of Asia. He is a frequent broadcaster and has appeared on CNN, ABC News, BBC and NPR. He is the co-author of "The Witch Doctors", "A Future Perfect: the Challenge and Hidden Promise of Globalisation" and "The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea" and "The Right Nation", a study of conservatism in America, with Adrian Wooldridge, also an Economist journalist.
  • Transcript


Question: What does Gordon Brown want?

John Micklethwait:    I think what Brown is really interested by at the moment is the global institutions. That’s what he… you talk to Brown and he would argue, obviously to me, that The Economist's great argument… in a great, great paper of constitutional reform, look at the global institutions and try to work out what, you know, what you should do with them and I think there is… he’s onto something in one way but there’s an inherent tension in it, is that when you look at these organizations like the IMF and the World Bank and so on. There is an element whereby there is an immediate lack of comical… between the two, on the one hand, you have global Catholicism, on the other hand, you have much less impressive global institutions and then you have this global crisis and people immediately say, well, we want to have a bigger… a much more dramatic superstructure to rule the entire thing.  You could see that on the G20 meeting where they boasted the IMF, which I thought was a very good idea particularly for the emerging world, but fundamentally, in terms of that being a global regulatory answer to this crisis, I just don’t think that works and the reason really is due with America. It’s that this crisis began in America, it was… that was absolutely the epicenter, so if you have any dreams of a global regulatory running the world, you would have to imagine a system where by the global regulator will be bossing around the treasury and bossing around… and that’s just not going to happen and so to some extent, there’s a… it’s an idea which theoretically, has some degree of attraction but actually, once you get hit by the practice of it, it’s very difficult partly because you just hit a real posse. I cannot see any American president agreeing to have the IMF telling him what to do or telling her what to do.