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Globalization: Contents and Discontents

January 15-16, 2019

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


The World Bank Development Research Group based in Kuala Lumpur organized its third international conference, with the theme Globalization: Contents and Discontents. The conference brought together policymakers and academics to discuss the consequences of various aspects of globalization including trade, migration, financial flows, cultural exchanges and the diffusion of ideas.

Watch the special feature videos from our keynote speakers:

  1. Shanta Devarajan, Senior Director for Development Economics (DEC) at the World Bank
  2. JP Singh, Professor of International Commerce and Policy at the Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University
  3. Bill Easterly, Professor of Economics at New York University and Co-director of the NYU Development Research Institute


  • For at least twenty years, scholars have debated the pros and cons of globalization.  Jagdish Bhagwati, Anne Krueger, and others have made compelling arguments in favor of reducing trade and migration barriers to improve economic growth, and to have it more equitably distributed.  The sociologist Saskia Sassen in her 1998 collection of essays Globalization and Its Discontents raised doubts, saying that it resulted in “hyper” mobile capital which has changed the nature of sovereignty and heightened the salience of inequality.  Joseph Stiglitz, in his 2002 book with the same title, critiqued how globalization was managed by international financial institutions and argued for policies that gave greater importance to the interests of individual countries.  The anthropologist Arjun Appadurai has influentially theorized that globalization is a multi-dimensional process that is not just about financial flows and trade but also about cultural flows and the exchange of ideas.  The historian C.A. Bayly borrowed from this perspective to understand how previous waves of globalization led to the Birth of the Modern World.  David Autor and Pinelopi Goldberg are some of the leading representatives of research that employs careful econometric analysis to examine the effects of globalization on macroeconomic conditions, labor markets, and inequality. More recently, Dani Rodrik has reframed the debate as being about “smart globalization” versus “maximum globalization,” an approach that is cognizant of the winners and losers from the powerful forces unleashed by globalization.  

    The goal of this conference is to revisit these and other issues to understand the processes underlying globalization and how they may, or may not, shape a better world.  The conference will be anchored by keynote presentations by noted experts: Shanta Devarajan (Senior Director for Development Economics at the World Bank), William Easterly (Professor of Economics at New York University) and JP Singh (Professor of International Commerce and Policy at Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University). The organizing committee is headed by Norman Loayza and Vijayendra Rao, Lead Economists with the Development Research Group.

  • All sessions were streamed live on the World Bank Malaysia’s website and Facebook page. Click on links below to watch the live recordings.

    January 15, 2019

    9:00 am – 10:45 am

    Opening Session [VIDEO RECORDING

    11:00 am – 12:30 pm 

    Session 1: Macroeconomics and Finance [VIDEO RECORDING]
    Chair: Abigail Tay (Asia School of Business)

    2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
    Session 2: Trade and Welfare [VIDEO RECORDING]
    Chair: Jomo Kwame Sundaram (Khazanah Research Institute)

    4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
    Session 3: Social Transformation and Cultural Identity [VIDEO RECORDING]
    Chair: YB Liew Chin Tong (Deputy Minister of Defence)

    5:30 pm – 6:30 pm

    • Keynote Speech: J.P. Singh (George Mason University): “Global-Local Cultural Distances and Development Practices at UNESCO, WTO, and the World Bank” [VIDEO RECORDING(Presentation)
      Chair: Vijayendra Rao (World Bank)
  • All sessions were streamed live on the World Bank Malaysia’s website and Facebook page. Click on links below to watch the live recordings.

    January 16, 2019

    9:30 am – 10:30 am

    • Keynote Speech: William Easterly (New York University): “Markets and Development:  Is the Washington Consensus Still Alive?” [VIDEO RECORDING] (Presentation)
      Chair: Norman Loayza (World Bank)

    11:00 am – 12:30 am
    Session 4: Migration and Labor Markets [VIDEO RECORDING]
    Chair: Hamdan Majeed (Think City)

    2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
    Session 5: Trade and Innovation [VIDEO RECORDING]
    Chair: YB Dr. Ong Kian Ming (Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry, Malaysia)                         

    4:00 pm – 6:15 pm
    Session 6: FDI and Innovation [VIDEO RECORDING]
    Chair: Kenneth Simler (World Bank)

    6:15  pm– 6:30 pm

    • Closing Remarks: Firas Raad (Country Manager, World Bank)


  • WHEN: Tuesday & Wednesday, January 15-16, 2019; 8:30AM-6:30PM
  • WHERE: The Forum, Level 1, Sasana Kijang, No 2, Jalan Dato' Onn, 50480 Kuala Lumpur
  • RSVP: Kindly RSVP by Wednesday, January 9, 2019