The Washington consensus revisited

In 1989, economist John Williamson coined the term “Washington Consensus” for a set of 10 market-oriented policies that Washington-based institutions prescribed to improve economic performance in “Third World countries”. Centered on fiscal discipline, market-oriented domestic reforms, and openness to trade and investment, the Washington Consensus inspired the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to pursue a reform agenda that was also resisted aggressively than he was.

At first, the Washington Consensus was heavily criticized for its failure to improve economic and social conditions, but a new symposium of papers published in the Summer 2021 issue of Economic Outlook Journal (JEP) reviews three decades of evidence that offers a different perspective.

On September 23, the Brookings Institution’s Global Economy and Development Program and Harvard University’s Center for International Development are co-hosting a virtual symposium to discuss findings from four studies published in the JEP and implications for developing future policies aimed at improving economic performance in the regions highlighted in the studies. During the symposium, panels of experts from academia, civil society and other key stakeholders:

  • Provide an overview of their recent research;
  • Discuss emerging evidence on the links between performance and policy adoption;
  • Share examples from case studies of country experiences in policy reform;
  • And identify lessons for policy reform, discuss areas for further research, and explore the role of Washington consensus policies in policy reform.

Viewers can submit questions via email to [email protected] or via Twitter to #WashingtonConsensus.

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