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Against the consensus: Reflections on the great recession

Five years after the global financial crash of 2008, at least one aspect is clear: It’s been a rocky road to recovery. From southern European countries undergoing debt crises to concerns that the U.S. and other developed nations are not creating jobs fast enough, it’s clear that many countries are still grappling with the question of how to ensure viable economic recovery in the long term without putting an undue strain in the short term. However, before further policies are implemented, are we so certain of the causes of the 2008 crash in the first place?

At this Breakfast Seminar Justin Yifu Lin, former Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of the World Bank (a position he held from 2008-2012) will present his book Against the Consensus. The book offers an unorthodox perspective on the cause of the financial crisis, why it was so serious and widespread, and its likely evolution. While many point to East Asian economies as the cause of the crisis (due to their export-oriented strategies, accumulation of foreign reserves as self-insurance, and especially undervaluation of Chinese currency), Lin instead argues that the combination of financial deregulation in the U.S. and loose monetary policy ultimately triggered the housing bubble and its meltdown. Illustrating that conventional theories provide inadequate solutions, Lin not only recommends the creation of a global Marshall Plan, but also of a new supranational global reserve currency.


  • Justin Yifu Lin, Former former World Bank Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, Development Economics
  • Chair: Guntram Wolff, Director of Bruegel

Justin Yifu Lin is Professor and Honorary Dean of the National School of Development at Peking University. He was Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of the World Bank between 2008 and 2012, and was the first economist from the developing world to hold this position. Prior to joining the World Bank, Lin served for 15 years as Founding Director and Professor of the China Centre for Economic Research at Peking University. He is the author of 23 books, most recently Demystifying the Chinese Economy (Cambridge, 2011) and the Quest for Prosperity: How Developing Countries Can Take Off (Princeton, 2012).

Guntram Wolff is the Director of Bruegel from June 2013. He joined Bruegel in April 2011 and was Bruegel's Deputy Director prior to becoming Director. His research focuses on the European Union economy and governance, on fiscal policy, and global finance. He is also a member of the French prime minister's Conseil d'Analyse Economique.

He has joined Bruegel from the European Commission, where he worked on the macroeconomics of the euro area and the reform of its governance. Prior, he was an economist at the Deutsche Bundesbank, where he coordinated the research team on fiscal policy. He also worked as an adviser to the International Monetary Fund.

He currently teaches at Université libre de Bruxelles and serves on the advisory board of the European Studies center of Corvinus university Budapest. He holds a PhD from the University of Bonn, studied economics in Bonn, Toulouse, Pittsburgh and Passau and previously taught economics at the University of Pittsburgh. He has published numerous papers in leading academic journals. Guntram is fluent in German, English, French and has good notions of Bulgarian and Spanish. His columns and policy work are published and cited in leading international media such as the Financial Times, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, El Pais, La Stampa, FAZ, Handelsblatt, Financial Times Deutschland, BBC, ZDF, WDR, Die Welt, CNBC and others.

Event materials

Presentation by Justin Yifu Lin Download

Practical details

  • Venue: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
  • Time: Monday 27 January 2013, 8:15 - 10:00 (Breakfast will be served at 8:15 before the event begins at 8:30)
  • Contact:Matilda Sevón, Events Coordinator - matilda.sevon[at]bruegel.org