There’s nothing that delights Bwog more than to show off the extensive vocabulary we’ve accumulated in our years sitting through Gulati lectures. And by that, we mean Art History lectures and Creative Writing seminars. But one of our newest (and bestest) staff members, Econ Enthusiast and Vocabulary Purveyor Extraordinaire Jed Bush, hopped over to the Islamic Banking lecture at the World Leaders Forum, and translated a few of the biggest words for us.
Greed, for lack of a better, uh… cliché, is good. That’s how it’s understood, at least, in the world of Western finance.
So as Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali Al-Madani spoke on the benefits Islamic Banking can bring to western markets, the recent financial crisis was at the forefront of the discussion. Jeffery Sachs handled the introductions for Dr. Al-Madani, briefly discussing their partnership in efforts to combat global poverty through the Millennium Villages and Drylands Iniative programs.
Al-Madani has been front and center at the Islamic Development Bank, having been its president for all but two years of its existence, since 1975. The Bank has 56 member nations, with a combined 1.5 billion people encompassing nearly 20% of the world’s population, and retains a AAA credit rating with the main rating agencies. Yet despite the impressive resume, Al-Madani’s proposals were surprisingly rudimentary and underdeveloped when it came to their application in the western world of finance.
When Al-Madani took to the podium, he began by discussing some alarming facts regarding the 2008 financial crisis. It singlehandedly wiped out “30% of the world’s gross output,” he said, creating rising unemployment rates around the globe and bringing growth to a halt in most corners of the world. Most troubling about the financial crisis is that, as funds are being diverted towards kick-starting economic growth in domestic markets, many funds devoted to fighting poverty have been the first to be slashed—undermining years of work and further increasing the suffering of the poor and disadvantaged. However, he then abrubtly veered from discussing humanitarian efforts and dived into the issue of debt in western markets. Because that’s what really matters.