Rising Powers in the Shadow of the Crisis

Rising Powers in the Shadow of the Crisis

Reported by Kate McNeil, PaCCS Communications Officer

Earlier this year, as the world adjusted to life in pandemic lockdowns, I video chatted with Dr Paola Subacchi to discuss her new book and her past work on a Global Uncertainties accredited project, Rising Powers in the Shadow of the Crisis: A New Global Governance.

While Dr Subacchi is now an adjunct professor at the University of Bologna, her work on rising powers and economic governance occurred during her time at Chatham House, where she served as the director of international economics research. Her work on the emergence of new economic powers, which culminated in a report published in 2011, created an opportunity for Dr Subacchi to become involved in G20 dialogues, and to develop a network of relationships working in the space which continues to prosper a decade later.

Some of the key highlights of Dr Subacchi’s work with the G20 centered on her research group’s participation in the creation of engagement groups at the G20, including the creation of engagement groups during the Mexican-chaired 2012 summit, and the development of Women 20 in 2015, an official G20 engagement group which focuses on gender mainstreaming in global public policy. Involvement with this groups allowed her team to contribute to debates and facilitate a dialogue about changing global governance in the context of the G20. These dialogues fed back into her academic work, developing stakeholder relationships, and facilitating opportunities for her team to connect researchers to policymakers. Her goal was to achieve a ‘neutral benefit’ for all parties, while she simultaneously sought to understand what the G20 stands for in the context of a changing global order.

Dr Subacchi’s experience studying the G20 has led her to conclude that some of the existential reasons for the existence of parts of our global economic governance architecture, such as crises committees, have become lost in translation, raising issues of legitimacy versus effectiveness within the functioning of the G20. She subsequently called for improvements in transparency, accountability, and representativeness within the institution, in the context of rising global inter-dependencies within economic and financial systems. Her work on rising powers in the shadow of the 2008-2009 economic crisis has also become a steppingstone to her subsequent projects, including her recently published book, The Cost of Free Money, which was released in July.

The Cost of Free Money explores macroeconomic adjustments, capital flows, investing, and how to keep the global economy in good shape. The book is ultimately an examination of what might become of the global economic and political order in the aftermath of international cooperation crippled by the consequences of the last financial crisis.

Dr Subacchi also believes that her past work on global economic governance has also shaped her thinking about the current crisis brought on by the covid-19 pandemic. The key topic within her work on rising powers was the importance of international cooperation, without which she believes you cannot deal with a global crisis like the current one, and without which we could not cope with the 2008 financial crisis. She emphasizes that successful global collaboration in the context of global crisis involves countries getting together, cooperating, developing coordinated policies for recovery and the post-crisis era. Only in this way does she believe that we can ensure that international actors engage in responsible behaviors which do not have adverse effects upon those with whom they are cooperating.