It was quite an impressive array of experts, advocates and power-brokers that participated in a conference last week hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, to explore “New Forms of Solidarity: Towards Fraternal Inclusion, Integration and Innovation” at the Casina Pio IV.
They included Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), American economist Jeffrey Sachs, finance ministers from several different countries including Argentina’s Martin Guzmán and Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer SJ, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Joseph Stiglitz, a US Nobel laureate in economics, delivered a keynote address on “Global Economic Transformation: Power, People and Values”.
In his address, Stiglitz highlighted the crisis in global capitalism. He described a range of elements, from entrenched inequality to ecological indifference to a kind of magical thinking in political economy that recognises no moral restraints on market activity.
The practical focus of the day-long gathering was debt relief. Martin Guzmán reportedly met the IMF’s Georgieva on the sidelines of the conference. Argentina owes the IMF some $44 billion in loans. That sum reportedly represents less than half of Argentina’s outstanding public debt, which the country is looking to restructure. Argentina’s economy is in recession, meanwhile, and inflation is high.
Last week’s Vatican visit by Argentina’s new president, Alberto Fernández, grabbed headline space – owing in part to a Mass celebrated in the crypt of St Peter’s Basilica, at which Fernandez and his domestic partner reportedly received Communion – but one wonders whether the real dealing was not done elsewhere.