Diana Carney

Why we are bringing Larry Summers to Ottawa

October 18, 2012

Larry Summers is one of the foremost academic and applied economists of our time. The range of positions he has held speaks for itself: the youngest ever tenured professor at Harvard, Chief Economist of the World Bank, President of Harvard, US Secretary of the Treasury and head of President Obama’s National Economic Council. For most of us, achieving even one of these things is an unattainable prize.

Canada 2020 is a non-partisan, progressive think tank. We strive to extend the depth and range of debate about public policy and the role of the federal government in Canada. One way in which we do this is by bringing to our ever-expanding audiences key, global thought-leaders. We believe there is huge value in having first-hand exposure to the best and most experienced thinkers, and being able to engage them in discussion about the future of Canada and the world.

In the past six years we have hosted international figures such as Niall Ferguson, Al Gore and the Financial Times’ Martin Wolfe as well as numerous Canadian authorities (see here for a full list of our speakers and events). This year we are thrilled to host Dr Summers.

Throughout his career, Dr. Summers has embodied a forward-looking, progressive spirit. He is a bold, clear thinker. Sometimes he is controversial, but we like that too!

When thinking about The Canada We Want in 2020 our focus is on both the domestic and the international forces that will shape our country. The state of the US economy is, arguably, at the top of this list. The US affects all countries but the effect on its northern neighbour is particularly profound. As most of us know by now, we are overly reliant on the US for our trade and our prosperity: nearly three quarters of our exports go to the US.

The looming possibility of the US falling off the “fiscal cliff” (suffering a huge contraction due to the projected economic shock that will occur when spending cuts and tax increases automatically come into effect in the first days of 2013) is a grave concern for Canada, as well as for the US itself.

Nobody is better placed to help us develop an understanding around the dynamics of the US economy – as well as the US political process – than Dr Summers. When he visits Ottawa, he will talk to us about the fiscal cliff: what it means, whether it can be averted and, even if it is, whether that will be sufficient to raise the US economy out of the doldrums.

Importantly for us, this event is taking place two days after November 6. The results of the election will be in (assuming we don’t have a re-run of the 2000 election fiasco…) and so real predictions about economic decision-making will, once more, make some sense. Who better to make such predictions that the man who has occupied two of the three top economic jobs in the US (maybe he’ll move into Ben Bernanke’s seat next??).

As is always the case for us, we are thrilled to be able to present this most prestigious and globally sought-after speaker to our Ottawa audience free of charge. This is possible due to the extremely generous event sponsorship of TD.

Both Canada 2020 and TD believe in the importance of extending public education and knowledge in Canada; this event is a perfect example of that philosophy in practice. Thanks to our new live-stream feed, people everywhere will be able to listen to Dr Summers and even pose questions to him (through Twitter).

So there you have it. We think this will be the best, most informative, thought-provoking and engaging event of the year here in Ottawa. We hope you agree. Please join us: in person if you can, on line if that’s not possible.

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