The Trento Festival has reached its third edition and confirms itself as the key appointment of the year with regard to the debate and discussion of the major questions of our times. From 29 May to 2 June economists, legal experts, businessmen, politicians and sociologists will exchange ideas on The Market and Democracy, a theme which offers opportunities for reflection and for sharing opinions with the public – the “friends of the squirrel” – a public which is young, pays attention to economics and has a strong interest in current affairs, politics and society.
This is what Tito Boeri, scientific coordinator of the Festival, has to say: “We used to think that there could not be a market without democracy, but we have had to think again. There may indeed be totalitarian regimes which tolerate the presence of the markets. Those who did not recognise this in Pinochet’s Chile, in a small country and with a regime lasting less than 20 years, have been forced to take note of the case of China, and a very important case it is. It was not and is not possible to ignore it”.
However, the relationship between market and democracy does not only concern China, but also situations much closer to our everyday experience, such as the world of business for example. Indeed, to continue with a reflection of Tito Boeri “not only can markets coexist with authoritarian regimes, but inside the markets there are organisations which operate in a very undemocratic manner internally. Businesses are generally managed in an autocratic manner. The “boss” decides, frequently without consulting the employees and all those, suppliers and habitual clients, who have an interest in the work of the company. If the boss is accountable to anybody it is to the shareholders, but there are always, or almost always, some shareholders who count more than others, independently of the number of shares that they own. There is no universal suffrage in the company. Often there is no suffrage at all”
Thus the interweaving of the market and democracy can be seen in the relationship between participation and political decision-making, in the link between information and economic power and in the two-way thread between the production system and consumption. Economists of undisputed prestige from the best universities in the world will explain the issues behind all these topics. Paul Krugman, Lecturer in Economics and International Relations at the University of Princeton and the London School of Economics, leader writer for the “New York Times”, will reflect on how ideologies can condition the functioning of the markets; Paul Collier, Professor of Economics at the University of Oxford, will explain to us why African countries with a low income are failing to jump on the development bandwagon; Benjamin Friedman, Lecturer in Political Economics at the University of Harvard, will challenge the long tradition of thinking which suggests that economic wellbeing leads to serious moral consequences: from individualism to exploitation of the work of others and the disintegration of traditional social bonds; Luisa Diogo, currently Prime Minister of Mozambique, will illustrate her experience of government, whose efficacy has excited the interest of observers from all over the world; Egor Gaidar, Prime Minister of Russia in 1992 under Boris Yeltsin’s government and one of the first to lead Russia towards the free market, will explain the difficulties in the passage from the Soviet to the capitalist system; John Lloyd, journalist and leader writer for the “Financial Times”, will analyse the information scenario, in the face of a growing concentration of ownership of newspapers and television stations, both in Europe and in the USA.
These and many others will be joined by important figures in the Italian public debate, including among others Mario Monti, Guido Rossi, Francesco Giavazzi, Luciano Gallino, Sergio Marchionne and Piercamillo Davigo.
There will be a regular appointment with Forums, where economists, politicians and journalists will deal with topical economic issues relating to the country: Protectionism and the Market; Media and Democracy; Democracy and Business; The Market, Welfare and Solidarity.
Once again this year there will be series of other formats: Keywords, At the Frontier, Visions, Focus, Dialogues, Intersections and Witnesses of Time. This last will include an innovation: one appointment will see the participation of several people; those who are involved in the daily battle for legality in those areas of our country in which organised crime makes healthy development of the market and democracy difficult will bring their evidence.
As always, there will be numerous activities during the Festival, from presentations of books, once again this year coordinated by Roberto Ippolito, to laboratories for children and teenagers, performances and meetings organised by associations.
The “team” of the Festival of Economics remains unchanged and has been consolidated.
Scientific Coordinator: Tito Boeri;
Promoting committee: Autonomous Province of Trento, Municipality of Trento and the University of Trento;
Organising committee: Il Sole 24 Ore, Editori Laterza;
Partner: Intesa Sanpaolo;
Main sponsors: Fiat Group, Gioco del Lotto, Vodafone
So the Trento Festival is an appointment not to be missed, offering an important opportunity for the exchanging of ideas and collective reflection. It is a chance to participate and gain an understanding of the major changes of our times, involving all aspects of our society and daily life, starting from economics.